The Palace Barracks Memorial Garden situated in Palace Barracks, Holywood, County Down, Northern Ireland.
The barracks are the Regimental Headquarters of the Royal Irish Regiment (1992) since 2008 and the home base of several squadrons of the 152 (Ulster) Transport Regiment (Volunteers). It was planned out and plotted in 1993 to honor the men and women of the security forces that have been killed in the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Also, men and women have been remembered there that have died in service in other parts of the world over the last 50 years. The memorial garden is well maintained and provides a beautiful area for people to visit.
Many families who have lost loved ones in service have chosen to make pilgrimages to this garden memorial that is located on the edge of the Hollywood Army base. There is much comfort found for the ones left behind in this memorial garden. People are able to come and find closure and peace in the life that was sacrificed for freedom. It takes time for healing when people are confronted with loss, and during the bereavement process, having a real location to visit can bring immense comfort to the hurting.
Nestled in this beautiful memorial garden are the headstones of valiant men and women. Each one of these stones are made of South African polished granite. The names of these service members are inscribed on these beautiful headstones. Flowers adorn the area and have either been placed by family members that have traveled to the location or by volunteers that manage the area. Each one has been placed in an orderly fashion throughout the memorial garden. Family members and other visitors are able to remember their loved ones in solace and beauty.
This incredible memorial garden is cared for by many volunteers that willingly give up their time to maintain these plots. Albert D. Owens, the custodian, is a caring soul that has worked to organize the care of the memorial garden. He not only strives to keep the premise beautiful and pristine, but he keeps in regular contact with the families of the lost service members. He also travels around to speak to organizations such as veterans groups, clubs and other associations.
Palace Barracks Memorial Garden brings comfort to the families that have lost their loved ones. With such a passionate custodian who works hard to maintain the area, these family members are well served.
So why use South African granite for the garden memorial? Dartmoor Granite and Shap granite are beautiful – and from this country? Is it because it is in Northern Ireland and not mainland UK?
One last thought, a very sensitive subject I know but we need a better word for the late 20th Century conflict in Northern Ireland than ‘The Troubles’ with a fatality count of around three and half thousand and causalities around fifty thousand, going on over thirty years – I am not sure the phrase adequately describes it.