THE GRAVE of the first leader of the Irish Free State has been badly damaged in an attack at a Dublin cemetery.
William Thomas Cosgrave was the first President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State from 1922 to 1932 – and led the country during the uncertain first years of independence from Britain.
He died in 1965 and was laid to rest in Goldenbridge Cemetery in the southern suburbs of Dublin city.
A large Celtic Cross which marks the grave of Cosgrave and his wife Louisa had the top of the cross completely broken off, 12 other graves in the cemetery were targeted, including one of a child who died in the Easter Rising, BBC NI reports.
Gardaí said they are treating it as a case of “criminal damage” – and continue to investigate after receiving the report on Monday.
Cosgrave was born in Dublin in 1880 and first became politically active when he joined Sinn Féin in the early 1900s.
WT Cosgrave’s legacy divided people – some 77 republican prisoners were executed during the Irish Civil War when he was in power though he fiercely defended Ireland’s new independent Free State.
His son, Liam Cosgrave, went on to serve as Taoiseach from 1973 to 1977.
Cosgrave’s death was marked by a state funeral before he was laid to rest in Goldenbridge Cemetery.
It is not the first time his grave was targeted – in 2014 a similar incident occurred, although the damage was minor.
So far, no announcements have been made over plans to restore the gravestone.