A national ceremony of remembrance and reflection in memory of all those who died during the Civil War was held at the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin today.

It was attended by many relatives of people killed on both sides of the conflict.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Tánaiste Micheál Martin laid a wreath in a formal but low-key ceremony.

There was an Army guard of honour on parade outside the garden to welcome the arriving guests and an honour guard made up of the Defence Forces officer cadets at the wreath-laying itself.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar arrives at the event

A lone Army piper and the Combined Band of the Defence Forces played, but this was not exclusively a military event.

It had less military pageantry than the rededication last August of the Michael Collins memorial at Beal na Bláth. Both leaders spoke at that event, but there were no speeches today.

There was a strong civilian presence, with the emphasis on youth and renewal.

The mixed-voice Cór Linn Youth Choir and violin soloist Aoife Ní Bhriain also performed, there was a reading of Patrick Kavanagh's poem 'Peace' by Laura O'Mahony and a prayer by the Defence Forces Chaplin Fr Dan McCarthy.

The National Anthem was sung by soprano Colette Delahunt.

Apart from the Taoiseach and Tánaiste, the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Councillor Caroline Conroy, was present, as were members of the Council of State.

The most important guests were the families of men and women from both sides in the conflict, seated along both sides of the memorial pool.

Order given to 'dump arms'

The significance of the date is that last Wednesday was the 100th anniversary of the order issued by IRA Chief of Staff Frank Aiken to all IRA commanders to cease armed resistance to the Free State government and to 'dump' arms and ammunition.

The order was very precisely worded, it was not an order to surrender, nor was it an order to throw the guns in the ditch.

The guns were to be hidden in arms dumps with the clear implication that the IRA leadership reserved the right to bring them out again, if circumstances dictated.

The death of IRA Chief of Staff Liam Lynch a month earlier had been taken by both sides as the moment the end of the war was inevitable.

Once Lynch was dead, Eamon de Valera as President of the Republican underground government was able to tell the Republican movement that the time had come to pursue the Republican cause by other means.

Today also presented an opportunity to ponder the cost of the conflict, in terms of lives lost, perhaps 2,000, with multiples of that number wounded in mind and body, 12,000 men in prison, families sundered, lives ruined, and the country's infrastructure, everything from railways to creameries, in ruins in many places.

The government of the day put the cost of the Civil War at £50 million in 1923 values, as much as €3 billion in today's money.

Read more
The last days of Liam Lynch
Death on a bare mountain: The end of the Civil War