5.The Time in the Slime (the river Liffey)
Back in the late 1990’s when Ireland’s economy started to grow for the first time in centuries the government, instead of building schools and hospitals, decided Dublin needed a clock in the river Liffey that counted down to the millennium. Officially called “The Millennium Clock”, it was dubbed “The time in the slime”. It took the shape of a massive digital clock counting down to the Jan 1st 2000, in case anyone forgot about the most publicised event in history.
Any clock submerged in a river needs to be waterproof and correctly able to count time. This clock could do neither – it leaked and got the time wrong and was eventually removed to the comforts of a warehouse where it counted down the millennium in peace free from rusty bicycles and traffic cones.
4.Michael Collins & Arthur Griffith Cenotaph (Dail Eireann)
The Irish civil war ended in 1923 with the Cumann na nGael government emerging victorious after a brutal conflict. This had seen two prominent members of the government die – Michael Collins was assassinated in Beal na mBlath, County Cork in August 1922 while Arthur Griffith died a few days before hand allegedly from stress.
In an incredibly provocative gesture Cumann na nGael installed an enormous cenotaph at the back of Leinster house (the Irish parliament) commemorating Collins and Griffith. Erecting a monument in the grounds of the parliament to members of one political party after such a bitter conflict was incredibly divisive particularly as Collins had been the military leader in the conflict.
By 1932 the political landscape had dramatically changed with the anti-treaty side taking power in the shape of Fianna Fail. Initially Fianna Fail allowed Cumann na nGael to hold rallies and commemorations at the cenotaph. However, in the 1930’s these were banned when Cumann Na nGael supporters formed a fascist organisation, The Army Comrades Association (known as The Blueshirts) and seemed to be threatening a coup d’etat.
The original structure had only been temporary and unsurprisingly De Valera and Fianna Fail did not see the value in erected a permanent statue and it was removed down in the 1940’s. Click here for a film, shot at the unveiling of the Cenotaph in 1923
3.Nelson’s Pillar (O Connell street)
For over 150 years an enormous column topped with a statue of Lord Horatio Nelson, the one armed and one eyed victor of the battle of Trafalgar dominated O Connell St, Dublin. However this symbol of British Imperialism was slightly out of place when Ireland was celebrating the 50th anniversary of its great anti-imperialist gesture – the 1916 rising. It was inevitable something was going to happen to the statue but no- one could have foreseen the dramatic nature of the statues demise. At 2 a.m. on March 8th 1966 the IRA set off a bomb which completely destroyed the top upper section of the monument. The base of the statue was destroyed by the army shortly afterward, allegedly doing more damage than the original explosion. The spire now stands where Nelson’s Column was situated.
2.William of Orange (College Green)
If there was one statue that was not going to survive Irish independence this was it. William of Orange defeated James II at the battle of the Boyne in 1690 and ever since William and his victory has been twisted to suit political circumstances of the day.
His victory had been celebrated by Unionists in the provactive 12th of July Parades in Ireland through the 19th century and he became a despised figure for Irish nationalists who saw William as a symbol of their repression and discrimination. In 1929, what was inevitable happened when the statue was blown up. Needless to say it wasn’t rebuilt.
1.Sean Russell (Fairview park)
Sean Russell was a former quarter master general and chief of staff of the IRA. Towards the late 1930’s Russell lead a faction within the IRA that nurtured closer links with Nazi German trying to forge an alliance. This saw him travel to Germany in 1940 to receive training. Later that year Russell was transported back to Ireland on a German submarine along with fellow republican Frank Ryan, but Russell died before the submarine reached Ireland and the mission was aborted. (To make the incident stranger Frank Ryan was a socialist republican captured by Franco while fighting in the Spanish Civil war and subsequently handed over to the Nazi’s.)
Russell’s republican background is celebrated in Fairview Park in Dublin by a memorial erected in 1951. Unsurprisingly it has become one of the most controversial statues in Ireland. In a bizarre incident in the 1950’s a right- wing group removed the statues right arm claiming it was raised in a communist salute.
In 2004 the statue was decapitated allegedly by anti fascists. The statue was replaced with a bronze structure and according to the National Graves Association fitted with sensors. This did not stop the new statue being daubed with swastika’s in 2008 and antifascist slogans in 2009.