Elizabeth McLaughlin’s statue to the Countess Markievicz was slammed in The Irish Times of October 21 2000 by Robert O’Byrne. In a piece looking at five ‘statues to forget’, it was noted that the statue “bears almost no resemblence to the rebel Countess, it is coarsely executed, a giftshop item enlarged”. Ouch. Still, the writer also thought that John Henry Foley’s masterpiece, the O’Connell memorial, was “vulgar, overblown and overbearing”, and even praised ‘Perpetual Motion’, that weird looking thing out by Naas.
The statue of Countess Markievicz is relatively new, dating back to 1998. It was commissioned by Treasury Holdings. The Countess has a number of statues and monuments in her honour, including at Leinster House and Stephens Green, along with a very impressive statue in her native Sligo, depicting her in the uniform of the Irish Citizen Army. What is unusual about the statue opposite Tara Street fire station and next to The Irish Times, is that it shows Marckievicz in a more informal manner, alongside her beloved dog Poppet.
Sean O’Faoláin wrote of the dog in his biography of the Countess, noting that:
Madame had a dog, Poppet, which some of them disliked intensely and regarded only as ‘an ould dog you’d love to root’, and behind her back Poppet did get an occasional ‘root’
The dog also appears in the memoirs of Margaret Skinnider, the only female wounded on the republican side during a Easter Rising, and a republican from Coatbridge,Scotland.
One day the countess took several of us, including her dog Poppet, out beyond Dundrum. Upon our return we could call this expedition “a little shooting party.” And it would be the truth, for Poppet, being an Irish cocker, more interested in hunting than in revolts, joined himself to two men who were intent on getting birds. He was of so great assistance that these men, in recognition of his services, gave us a few of the birds he brought in. We took them home as trophies.
While the statue dates to 1998, monuments to the Countess have stood in the city for decades. It was 1932 for example when the bust in Stephens’ Green was unveiled at a huge ceremony involving veterans of the Rising, President de Valera, and an ex-speaker of the Indian Parliament in the form of Mr.Patel, who received a rousing reception. Early in 1945, someone took a disliking to the bust and a hammer was used upon it, causing considerable damage.
Constance Georgine Markievicz is today buried in Glasnevin Cemetery, having died at the age of 59, on 15 July 1927. She, and her sister Eva, a radical in her own right and a trade unionist and suffragist, are remembered in W.B Yeats’ beautiful poem In Memory Of Eva Gore-Booth And Con Markiewicz.
The light of evening, Lissadell,
Great windows open to the south,
Two girls in silk kimonos, both
Beautiful, one a gazelle.