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Irish statues and their nicknames

Visitors to Dublin often comment on the strange comic nicknames given by the populace to some of Dublin's statues. Others are struck by controversies that have often arisen over statues in Dublin, and the disappearance of some of the city's most prominent monuments at the hands of the IRA.

Nelson's Pillar
Blown up by Irish republicans in 1966
Dublin's most prominent monument, Nelson's Pillar, which stood near the General Post Office (GPO) in the centre of O'Connell Street, was blown up by the IRA in 1966, as their way of commemorating the Easter Rising. Other monuments still surviving on O'Connell Street include statues honouring Charles Stewart Parnell at the north end of the street; at the southern end stands a statue of Daniel O'Connell. Other statues on the street include one of trades union leader James Larkin and an illegally erected statue to the Sacred Heart.

On the site of the Pillar, a new monument was erected in Janary 2003. Officially named the Spire of Dublin, this tall needle-like structure has already received a number of nicknames. Among the ones proposed are 'the Stiletto in the Ghetto' and the 'North Pole''. (O'Connell Street is on the northside of Dublin). To erect the new monument, a notorious 1980s monument to the river Liffey was removed from nearby on O'Connell St. The river was represented by a woman sitting on a slope with water running down past her, bubbling. It rapidly came to be nicknamed the Floozie in the Jacuzzi or the 'Hoor in the Sewer' ('hoor' is a colloquial version of 'whore'.)

Daniel O'Connell
19th century nationalist leader, whose statue stands on O'Connell St.

Henry Grattan
19th century statue in College Green

Another statue to earn a dubious but comical nickname is a monument at the bottom of Grafton Street, supposedly representing Molly Malone, a fictitious fishmonger featured in Dublin's anthem, Molly Malone, who is shown, dressed scantily, next to a cart. She is generally known in Dublin as the 'Tart with the Cart'.

Curiously, given that Ireland has been independent for over eighty years, no statues in Dublin commemorate independent Irish leaders. No statues have been erected to figures like Eamon de Valera, Michael Collins, W.T. Cosgrave, Sean Lemass or any of the presidents of Ireland. One of the few elected politicians commemorated with a statue is Henry Grattan, a leading politician of the 1780s in the old Irish Parliament. A nearby statue of patriot Thomas Davis has earned the nickname 'Frankenstein' due to the out of scale hands, and odd shaped body given to the nationalist leader in the 1960s work.

Dublin was once famed for its high quality equestrian statues, including the Gough monument in the Phoenix Park and the King Billy William of Orange statue in College Green. Both these monuments and others were systematically blown up by the IRA in the 1920s and 1930s.

One statue not blown up was the statue of Queen Victoria, which stood in the forecourt of Leinster House, the seat of the Oireachtas Éireann (Irish Parliament). The statue was removed in 1947. It was left in storage before being sold to the city of Sydney in Australia in the late 1980s.

Queen Victoria
Unveiled outside Leinster House by Edward VII in 1904, removed 1947.

Famous Irish Statues