Top 10 Famous Monuments in Dublin
Would you like to learn more about the History of Ireland and about famous historical figures in the country too?
Most people are surprised to know that Dublin city has more to offer than just its great pubs. Of course, if you are visiting the dirty old town, you should not leave without stepping into at least one pub. The city is not only overflowed with medieval gems, but it is also famous for its various monuments and statues of important people who are now immortalized in the streets.
Dublin will become even more interesting to walk around when you have learned about its history and culture. You’ll definitely enjoy your pint of Guinness even more after knowing this!
Here are the Top 10 famous monuments in Dublin you shouldn’t miss! I’ll explain a bit about their history and significance, and of course, where they are located. While you’re packing and printing your boarding pass to come to Dublin, make sure you put at least a few of these monuments on your list of must-sees.
1 – The Spire
The Spire is actually the newest monument on this list, which was built in 2003 and designed by Ian Ritchie Architects, who sought an “Elegant and dynamic simplicity bridging art and technology”. For Dubliners, the monument is seen as the Spike; the Spire in the Mire; the Stiletto in the Ghetto; the Nail in the Pale; the Stiffy by the Liffey or the Pin in the Bin.
The “Monument of Light”( a name given because of the lights on the top of it) replaced the former location of “Nelson’s Pillar”, just in the middle of O’Connell Street, which was bombed by the IRA, an Irish guerilla organisation, in 1966. The whole thing generated a lot of controversy among Irish people, due to the fact that the monument doesn’t have a real historical meaning behind and it cost about €4 Million to be built. However, the Spire has become one of the main tourist attractions in Dublin city.
Made of stainless steel, with about 121.2 metres (398 feet) in height, it is almost impossible not to notice this gigantic steel lance standing in town. Because it can be seen from anywhere in the city centre, the monument is also used as landmarks, to point visitors to their destination and became a convenient point for friends to arrange to meet.
2- Daniel O’Connell Statue
This one dates back from 1882 and displays the famous Irish political leader Daniel O’Connell. O’Connell was an important Irish political leader at the beginning of the 19th century, who fought for Catholic emancipation and independence in Ireland and for arguing for the repeal of the Act of Union, 1800, which united Great Britain and Ireland in one: United kingdom. He became known as the Liberator or the Emancipator of Ireland.
Designed and sculpted by John Henry Foley, who also made London’s Albert Memorial, it took nearly 20 years to be built, the statue became one of his finest pieces of work. The O’Connell statue is situated just on the Southside of O’Connell Street, in the middle, after the Spire and James Larkin Statue. It’s purposely Pointing towards the parliament buildings to symbolize the challenge he gave them over the Act of Union.
O’Connell is standing on a pile of books which symbolizes his higher education and the great knowledge he had to defend his arguments. The woman standing on the top of the broken shackles, whose name is Maid of Erin, was also an important figure who acted in the personification of Ireland. The four-winged victories and a crowd of figures which surround his statue represent each of O’Connell virtues to Irish people: patriotism, fidelity, courage, and eloquence. There can still be seen bullet holes over the statue, which date from the 1916 Easter Rising when British soldiers used them as target practice.
O’Connell was not only popular in Ireland, but his act of courage has also gained notoriety and inspired many leaders all over the world, including Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King. Willian Gladstone (1809–1898), another famous personality, described him as “the greatest popular leader the world has ever seen”.
3- James Larkin Statue
James Larkin statue is located on O’Connell Street, one of the final works of Oisín Kelly, built in 1977. James Larkin, also known as “the Big Jim”, was an Irish trade union leader and socialist activist, being described by G.B. Shaw as “The Greatest Irishman since Parnell”. Becoming important today for his crucial role in the 1913 Dublin Lockout, where he fought for the rights of unskilled workers to unionise, calling for “ a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay”.
Curiously, his pose with the arms outstretched was inspired by his notorious photography, retracting the day when he encouraged workers to rise up in a speech during his prime time. The script on the front of the monument is an extract in French, English and Irish from one of his famous speeches “The great appear great because we are on our knees: Let us rise.”
On one side of the statue, there is a quotation from Drums under the Windows by Sean O’Casey: “He talked to the workers, spoke as only Jim Larkin could speak, not for an assignation with peace, dark obedience, or placid resignation, but trumpet-tongued of resistance to wrong, discontent with leering poverty, and defiance of any power strutting out to stand in the way of their march onward.”
On the opposite side, you will find a piece of the poem Jim Larkin by Patrick Kavanagh:
“ And Tyranny trampled them in Dublin’s gutter
Until Jim Larkin came along and cried
The call of Freedom and the call of Pride
And Slavery crept to its hands and knees
And Nineteen Thirteen cheered from out the utter
Degradation of their miseries.”
4- Molly Malone Statue
Molly Malone statue, also known as the “The Tart with the Cart”, located on Grafton Street, was designed and built by Jeanne Rynhart in 1988, to celebrate the first millennium of Dublin. Many of you are probably wondering how this woman became so important? It may seem a bit weird that she has her own statue, but Malone is so strongly connected to the city that it’s almost impossible not to think about Dublin when you hear her name.
Everything started with the famous song “Cockles and Mussels”, which was based on Molly Malone’s life, actually written by a Scottish composer called James Yorkston. The lyrics state that she was a young and pretty fishmonger who sold her yield from a cart in the streets of the city of Dublin. Then, after dying from a fever she went on to haunt the city.
Even though, it’s not known for certain about her existence, a very curious fact is that there was a woman called Molly Malone who died in the 13th century, the same period the figure was believed to exist.
5-Oscar Wilde Statue
Oscar Wilde statue was unveiled in 1997 and is part of a triplet of statues, there is one of his nude pregnant wife and the other of the Greek God Dionysus. His statue now stands on Merrion Square because Wilde used to live in No. 1 Merrion Square. For those who don’t know, he was an Irish author, poet, and playwright, who became very popular in the Victorian period for writing The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891), Lady Windermere’s Fan (1892) and The Importance of Being Earnest (1895).
6- Constance Markievicz Statue
You can find the statue of Constance Markievics at Tara Street, opposite the fire station. Constance Markievicz was a famous Irish politician, revolutionary, nationalist and socialist, fought in the 1916 Easter Risings and the first woman to be elected for the British Parliament later. Erected in 1998, the statue displays her with her beloved dog Poppet.
7- Wellington Monument
The Wellington Monument is a triangular obelisk located in Phoenix Park and it’s actually the highest Obelisk in Europe, 63 metres tall (175- foot-high). The monument was inspired by the Egyptians obelisks, it was built in 1861 to celebrate the victories of Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington at the battle of Waterloo. It has 4 plaques on it, one with a text about Wellesley, 3 others about his career in Waterloo, the Indian Wars, about Civil and Religious Liberty.
This large white cross is also located in Phoenix Park, it’s 35 metres high (116 feet high) and made out of steel girders. The monument was erected due to the papal visit of John Paul II in 1979, who delivered an open-air sermon in the same location for 1.25 million people – about one-quarter of the whole Irish population.
9- Famine Memorial
The Famine memorial located at Customs House Quay, it’s dated from 1997 and displays 6 skeletal figures making their way to the harbour to get a boat out of Ireland.
The monument retracts one of the saddest periods of Irish history, known for the Great Famine. The Great Famine happened in the middle of the 19th Century, it was a period of mass starvation and disease. The disease was called late blight, it was caused by potatoes – remembering that potato was the main food source for Irish the Irish population during that time.
About 1 million Irish people died and millions emigrated to foreign countries in order to escape hunger and poverty.
10- Father Pat Noise Plaque
The Father Pat Noise Plaque is located on O’Connell Bridge and it was made by two unknown brothers! You may be wondering who this priest was. What if I tell you he never existed?! Monuments and statues are usually made to commemorate the existence of a person or event. But we live in a strange world, where a sense of humor has no limits!
According to rumors, two brothers placed this plaque in 2004 on the bridge as a remembrance of “priest who died without anyone knowing” with his carriage plunged into the Liffey River in 1919. Funnily, it was only in 2006 that the plaque was finally noticed by a newspaper! The City Council had no idea about it but decided to leave the plaque as it is. Finding out that, in the end, this mysterious Father Pat never existed, it was all just a joke!
Are you feeling even more excited about coming to Dublin now? Because this was just a very small part of its History! There are many, many other things to see and learn about. I hope you’ve enjoyed knowing more about Dublin city and you have a great time when coming to this wonderful place! Trust me, you will never want to leave this town again!
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