Tucked in nature. Steeped in history. Grounds to explore
The slow, winding mountain road to Glencree sets the tone for what is to come.
Follow the gentle sweep of the avenue into our peace campus as it introduces a marriage of history and nature unlike any other. These 16 acres of grounds, with 200 years of history – for the most part turbulent until peace finally descended 50 years ago – offer a place to explore, a place in nature, a place of peace.
The German Military Cemetery
A short stroll from the Glencree Peace campus, is a stark reminder of the devastation of the First and Second World Wars. Set in a landscaped quarry, the German Military Cemetery is one of the many German war cemeteries in Western Europe. The bodies of 134 German military servicemen and civilians are buried here.
Although a neutral country on the edge of the main battlefields, Ireland did not escape the direct effects of the war. Many Luftwaffe (Airforce) personnel were killed in action over the country when their aircraft strayed off course in foul weather, or crashed as a result of damage while in action over England. Running out of fuel and navigational errors due to inexperience were also a cause of fatalities.
Interred here also are a number of regular naval personnel (Kriegmarine) whose bodies washed up, sometimes in remote coastal locations. Of the eighty-one air and naval servicemen buried in Glencree, the identities of twenty-eight remain unknown.
Those who engaged in the ‘secret side of war’ are also buried here. Dr. Hermann Gortz, who took his own life to avoid arrest as a spy, has the only individual memorial - a finely carved stone relief - in the cemetery.
Six soldiers of the First World War are also interred. These soldiers died while in a British prisoner of war camp based in Ireland from 1915-1918.
The cemetery is also the final resting place of forty-six German civilians who were being transported from England to Canada in July 1940. Their ship ‘The Arandora Star’ was torpedoed by the German submarine off the coast of Donegal.
Just inside the wrought iron gated entrance, a poem by Professor Stan O’Brien, a dedicated supporter of the Irish-German Society, set in polished stone, captures the poignancy of this quiet resting ground.
A pathway leads to the ‘Hall of Honour’, a place of reflection and prayer. Just beyond the Hall the gravestones are laid out in eight gently curved arcs, while a mosaic Pieta, designed by Berlz, the Munich born painter, adorns the interior wall. Set on a height above the cemetery is a fine Celtic cross.