At the National Army plot in Glasnevin Cemetery some 183 names have re-emerged from formerly neglected limestone plaques, restored only last year.

Previously, the names of these soldiers, who died on the side of the Free State during the Civil War, were weathered and faded - only metres away from arguably the most visited grave in the cemetery, that of Michael Collins.

The names can now again be clearly read, a fact emblematic of how contentious the area of specific commemoration of the role of the National Army became, even when the new State was being established.

Among the names are those of Frederick McKenna, aged 18 at the time of his death in 1922, and his younger brother, Gerald, then aged 16.

Both had enlisted with the National Army and were sent to Cork in August 1922 and both were killed during the landing by Free State troops at Passage West in Cork.

Their mother, Mary Jane McCullough, was notified of Gerald's death and went to Portobello Barracks to see his body before the funeral at Glasnevin. It was only at the mortuary that she realised an unidentified body there, was that of her other son, Frederick.

It is mainly thanks to the Dublin Cemeteries Trust historian, Conor Dodd, that the stories of the people buried at the plot are recorded in his book Casualties of Conflict.

His book explores the lives of over 300 men, women and children who died in both the War of Independence and the Civil War and who are buried in the wider cemetery complex.

Red Cross men carrying the coffin of one of twelve soldiers who were killed in Dublin during the Irish Civil War
Soldiers carry the coffin of a colleague who was killed in Dublin during the Civil War in 1922

So why did the graves of these soldiers at the National Army plot become so neglected, while anti-Treaty side monuments and crosses appeared in numerous locations around the country, many of them well tended down through the generations, as is the Republican Plot at Glasnevin?

There does not seem to have been any recorded policy decision by the new government in this regard but it seems clear there was no political imperative to honour those who died.

Some believe the government simply wanted to move on as quickly as possible with the establishment of the State and believed it best not to reopen wounds that had not yet fully healed. Others believe pragmatic progress was the preferred option.

There are, for course, monuments commemorating all Irish soldiers who died in the service of their country, such as the eternal flame in Merrion Square, but, until now, none that specifically commemorates those who died in the Civil War - some 700-800 National Army soldiers.

Historian and author, John Dorney of The Irish Story, has argued that political reticence was coupled with financial controls "in the post-Civil War years to mean that the memory of the National Army soldiers buried at Glasnevin was particularly shabbily treated".

"First of all, their graves were never individually marked and the government in 1924 was not even sure how many soldiers were buried there. The government was reluctant to even pay for the burials and commemorative wreaths.

"It was not until 1967 that a monument was erected to the National Army soldiers at Glasnevin, though the 183 names on it probably does not cover all the soldiers buried there. (The monument to Michael Collins was, incidentally, only erected at Glasnevin in the late 1930s).

"As a result of this strange amnesia among pro-Treaty authorities about the soldiers who died on their side, we know relatively little about the experiences of the average National Army soldier in the Civil War," said Mr Dorney.

Historians, such as Professor Anne Dolan of TCD, have railed at this lack of recognition, noting: "Nothing has robbed the Free State soldier of his dignity more than his government’s treatment of his memory."

Doctors attending to wounded soldiers after the Battle of Dublin during the Irish Civil War
Wounded soldiers are treated during the Battle of Dublin in 1922

Senator Michael McDowell, in a speech to the Respect and Loyalty to the Fallen group at Glasnevin in November of last year observed that there had been no State commemoration "of those who died in the defence of the newly independent Irish State ... to afford them parity of esteem".

He argued there had been "some reluctance among modern historians to recognise the justice of the cause in defence of which the soldiers of the National Army of the Irish Free State fell".

"There is, in my view, a great danger in according complete moral equivalence to either side of the Civil War conflict," said Mr McDowell.

"Perhaps there is a wish to distance us from the policy of executing those found in arms against the Free State, the Dáil and its democratic institutions, and a sense of guilt in relation to the shooting of 85 such prisoners by Free State firing squads after summary courts martial."

The government of William T Cosgrave sanctioned the executions of anti-Treaty prisoners in retaliation for Republican attacks on its army and politicians. The outrages committed by members of the so-called Dublin Guard at Ballyseedy, Countess Bridge and other locations have been well-documented.

At Ballyseedy and at Countess Bridge in Kerry, prisoners were tied to landmines - constructed by National Army personnel - and blown up. Some argue that had National Army officers and men not been killed in a landmine explosion at Knocknagoshel, these retaliations in Kerry would not have occurred. Others saw such dreadful crimes by the army as inexcusable.

The National Army monument in Glasnevin

Lt Col Stephen McEoin, a serving army officer, explored the issue of ambivalence about commemorating the National Army dead, including ambivalence on the part of its successor, the Defence Forces, in the overall debate in an MA thesis.

he wrote: "Perhaps the clearest example of this ambivalence, as we have seen, is demonstrated in how the State can richly commemorate the Irish who served in the British armed forces in a variety of sometimes contentious conflicts, but chooses rather to ignore or at least side-line those who served in its own forces, excepting with the UN.

"Moreover, it would appear that the Defence Forces itself has never really developed its own internal culture of commemoration, since there is an almost complete amnesia regarding its dead from the Civil War, from the Emergency period and from the Troubles.

"The explanation here is not immediately obvious - it may for example be largely explained by suggesting that the Irish State has simply followed pre-existing and pervasive modes of commemoration from the received British/Commonwealth tradition, while never taking the time to develop its own commemorative legacies and traditions due to the low status of the military in the Irish State.

"There remains no 'roll of honour', no ‘list of the dead’, at State level or within the Defence Forces to counter the assertion that these men have been absolutely forgotten. In some ways perhaps, soldiers of the new Irish Free State who paid the ultimate price continued to pay it even in death.

"In order to secure the politics of compromise, the State needed to extract a silence from their death that would preclude any recognition, thus ironically obliging them to continue to serve in the State’s interest long after they had been buried."