We highly recommend including a walk down O’Connell Street the next time you find yourself in Dublin. Whether you’re in Dublin for awhile on our Dublin City-Stay or just passing through the capital city as you start a self-drive tour, the monuments of O’Connell Street are worth a visit. A grand center median runs the length of this major street, filled with statues that story Ireland’s history, politics, and spirit. For those not stepping on the plane today or wanting to learn some details before they depart, we’ve compiled a list of a few names to know and their noteworthy sculptures in the heart of Dublin along O’Connell Street:
1. The Spire of Dublin
The Spire of Dublin stands 150 meters tall (about 394 feet). This iconic structure was commissioned as a celebratory symbol of Dublin entering the new millennium. The project was completed in 2003 amidst mixed feelings from the public, many of whom saw the multimillion dollar price tag as exorbitant. The structure has quite a collection of nicknames, most reference the shape as well as the economic hardships the area once suffered, including: The Spike, The Binge Syringe, The Stiletto in the Ghetto, The Nail in the Pale, The Pin in the Bin… use your imagination for the rest.
2. William Smith O’Brien
William Smith O’Brien (1803-1864) was a leader of the unsuccessful rebellion of 1848. His statue was the first monument erected in Dublin to commemorate an individual who had carried out armed resistance against British rule. Artist Thomas Farrell created the figure out of Sicilian White Marble in 1870.
3. Sir John Grey
Sir John Grey (1815-75), another statue by Artist Thomas Farrell also made out of white marble. Gray was the proprietor of the Freeman’s Journal newspaper (under his direction) a strongly nationalist newspaper.
4. Father Theobald Mathew
Father Theobald Mathew, leader of the Irish Temperance Movement and was nicknamed the Apostle of Temperance. His statue was placed on O’Connell Street in 1890, Mary Redmond created the statue out of limestone.
5. Jim Larkin
James (Jim) Larkin, as one of the most striking statues of O’Connell Street, motions for those around him to rise up. Made of Bronze by Oisín Kelly in 1979. Big Jim, as he is nicknamed, was a workers rights advocate. An inscription on the statue has one of his most famous quotes: “The great appear great because we are on our knees. Let us rise!”
6. Charles Stewart Parnell
Another one of the monuments of O’Connell street is the statue of Charles Stewart Parnell, revered nationalist political leader. You’ll find his monument sitting at the top of O’Connell Street, at the entrance to the square named in his honor. The monument features his famous words, “No man has a right to fix the boundary to the march of a nation. To say to his country ‘thus far shall thou go and no further.’” It is commonly joked in Dublin that the statue was constructed to point in the direction of the Rotunda Hospital, which was once Dublin’s main maternity hospital, the humor being that Parnell was encouraging the Irish Nation to out-breed their enemies.
7. Daniel O’Connell
The name sake of O’Connell street located at the southern end, the Daniel O’Connell Monument. If you look closely, you can see bullet holes from the 1916 Easter Rising. Symbolically, the four winged victories sit at the base of the statue representing characteristics O’Connell possessed: fidelity, eloquence, courage and patriotism. Above this is a circle of figures representing labor and triumph. And on top of that stands O’Connell himself, larger than life looking out onto the city center (and often on top of his head resides a seagull enjoying the view).
Editor’s note: This post was originally written by Alison Kelly.
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The Ultimate Guide to Ireland
Learn about where to go, how to get around, and what to do on your vacation to Ireland and the British Isles!