Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Dublin Statues

The DublinSnapshots blog remarks that: Curiously, given that Ireland has been independent for over eighty years, no statues in Dublin commemorate independent Irish leaders. I suppose maybe it's because Ireland has only been independent since the 1920s, and it is always a bit strange to see a statues of someone who you've also seen on TV. Indeed, not all of the country is independent of course, and the troubles related to that may be another reason for the lack of statues.

Now, there is a statue of Jim Larkin, a trade union leader, erected in 1977. But none of Eamonn DeValera, for example. None of any leaders of Ireland since independence.

It makes me wonder about whether when the IRA were blowing up old British Empire statues in Dublin during the mid 20th century, was it expressing a general Irish resentment of reverence to statues in general, and therefore the last thing we'd want to do is to put up more statues of our own.

Dublin does have a lot of street art statues though. In a 21st Century Dublin scene below, we see some Eastern European musicians in front of the Molly Malone statue, with Number 1 Grafton Street (the Trinity College Provost's House) in the background.



Anonymous said...

When you commented on my blog recently, clicking your name led me to discover you, and I must say that nearly all your posts have a nostalgic resonance for me, as I only just returned from 6 months in May from spending 6+ months in Dublin.

This post in particular I find interesting because I spoke with a girlfriend of mine there, Jennie, about this very topic: the idea of the status in Dublin no longer reflecting the ‘roots of rebellion’ from the country’s past.

You do mention the Jim Larkin (arms out, standing proudly right before the spire in the middle of O’Connell street) but I think the absence of Devalera is no surprise. Despite his ‘hero’ status to some, far more Irish today look back on him as a pretty bad guy. In fact, lots of older Irish, women especially, like to call Dev the “Devil” (get it) and they would have no reason to want to see his mug staring down at them from a statue every morning on their walk to the Luas. They resent movies like ‘Michael Collins’ in which Dev looks like a heroic, beloved leader.

Another possible explanation for the lack of political statues in the city centre is that a lot of the ‘action’ back during the time of greatest tumult was in the countryside, like, specifically, Cork and Limerick.

Anyway, I do love that Molly statue. She’s pretty sexy. “In Dublin fair city, where the girls are so pretty, I first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone……”

Mark O'Neill said...

Hi Danny -

Thanks for the comment, and apologies for cluelessly misremembering where I'd read that Sloane Crosley review [I was thinking afterwards "was it *really* the New Yorker?"]. D'oh.

You have a point that the "action" in the major rebellion was mostly down the country, rather than in Dublin itself. The initial Easter 1916 rebellion was not so popular in Dublin, with the leaders being jeered at in the street when they were arrested and paraded to Dublin Castle. Arguably, there was more of a spirit of independence in places like Cork or Limerick. There is also the argument that Dublin was always the foreigners' town, i.e. founded by the vikings, then much later the locus of English rule.

I also wonder is "Civil War Politics" to blame also for the lack of statuary, whereby a statue of Michael Collins risks being viewed as a "Fine Gael statue" while a statue of Dev risks being viewed as a "Fianna Fail statue".

Unknown said...

I like to read about general observations regarding Dublin statues. I never realised that there was a whole generation of "rebellion heroes" missing in the scene ...
I made a map of all Dublin statues and published it on