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Moving Statues: The Case of Nelson’s Pillar in Dublin, 1966

by Familia Ulster Genealogical Review: No. 29, 2013


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by Dennis Kennedy

"Nelson’s Pillar, completed in 1809, dominated the centre of Dublin for more than one hundred and fifty years. It was Dublin’s Eiffel Tower, its most easily recognised landmark, the hub of the city’s tram and bus routes, rendezvous point for its citizens, and the image every visitor wanted to have on the postcard he sent home.

Not everyone liked the 121 foot Doric column with the 13 foot statue of Admiral Lord Nelson on top. Some said it was ugly, far too big for its location; many objected to an English hero dominating the Irish capital. There were repeated attempts to have it removed, or the Admiral replaced. But Nelson was still there in 1966.

On the morning of Tuesday, 8 March 1966, however, he was eventually, and illegally, blown off his perch. Half the pillar went with him, and the rest was later demolished. Dublin lost its most distinctive landmark, and the main aspect of the city centre was changed for ever.

‘Dublin’s Glory’ was gone."

This article aims to seek answers to questions posed by the long life and sudden death of Nelson's Pillar in Dublin.