Leo Broe, himself a member of the Irish Volunteers, is best remembered today for his various monuments to Irish republicans throughout the country. His memorial sculpture opposite Phibsborough Library on the North Circular Road is one of my favourite statues in Dublin, dating back to 1939.
The statue serves as a monument to the men of the Old ‘C’ Co.1st Batt, Dublin Brigade. Made of Irish limestone, and standing an impressive sixteen foot, it was unveiled on February 19 1939. Interestingly, the statue takes the form of a drinking fountain. The statue shows a man in Volunteer uniform clutching a rifle. On the day it was unveiled, Capt. Sean Prendergast unveiled the monument while Seamus Byrne delivered the oration.
The memorial contains three plaques, showing historic moments in Irish history. The landing of the Milesians, Cu Chullan and the death of Brian Boru at Clontarf are shown. As The Irish Press report at the time of the unveiling noted “over the fountains are two brass plaques of celtic design, and the surrounding area is in the form of a celtic cross.”
The Irish Times estimated that three thousand people had attended the unveiling of Broe’s statue.
Vandalised in the 1970’s, and the Volunteer stood for many years with no rifle in his hand, until his restoration in the early 1990s. The image below comes from an issue of inDublin magazine dated August 6th 1981, and first uploaded to the excellent dxarchive.com site, a tribute to Irish pirate radio stations, as Dublin’s first pirate television station ‘Channel D’ operated out of the old ‘State Cinema’ building in Phibsborough, just next to this monument.
Leo Broe, of Harolds Cross, was responsible for some excellent monuments nationwide. This cutting from The Irish Independent shows him at work on a monument which would end up in Bruff, Limerick. His monuments are to be found across the four provinces.
Leo Broe’s profile on the Dublin City Galery page notes that “much of Broe’s time was taken up with ecclesiastical work for Dublin churches, along with IRA memorials in provincial districts.” He died in 1966, with his son Desmond Broe going on to become noted in the field himself.
Just around the corner, and featured on Come Here To Me in the past, is a small plaque to Sean Healy, the youngest republican casualty of the 1916 rising.