The office of the Lord Mayor have an official page over on Facebook, which I recently stumbled upon. It reminded me of something I’d wish to look at briedly on the site before, which is the Lord Mayor’s chain. It is photographed here on our current Lord Mayor, veteran republican Christy Burke.
What people tend not to notice is the presence of a certain William III on the chain, better known to us today as King William of Orange. The current Lord Mayor’s chain of Dublin was completed in 1698, only eight short years after the Battle of the Boyne and within the lifetime of William. The previous Lord Mayor’s chain showed Charles II upon it, who commissioned the first Lord Mayors Chain for the city.
The original Lord Mayor’s chain, according to W.G Strickland, was taken by Sir Terence McDermott, Lord Mayor of the city who who fled to France during the religious wars of the late seventeenth century. What became of it remains a mystery. Bartholomew Van Homrigh, the Lord Mayor of Dublin following William’s victory at the Boyne, was first to wear the William III chain, and it was valued at the time at £1,000. A Dutch merchant, Van Homrigh expressed his hope that “in everlasting memory of the great services of William III to the Protestant inhabitants and as a mark of his royal grace and favour” William would bestow such a chain upon the city.
Kathleen Clarke, widow of 1916 leader Tom Clarke, made headlines in Ireland and further afield by refusing to wear the chain during her time in office. Dublin’s first female Lord Mayor, Clarke objected to the symbolism of the chain. Clarke also removed a portrait of Queen Victoria from the Mansion House, stating that “I felt I could not sleep in the Mansion House until she was out of it.” During her time in office Northern unionists asked the city of Dublin, perhaps tongue-in-cheekly, to hand over both the William city chain and the portrait of Victoria. Perhaps they were unaware that the words ‘Erin Go Bragh’, or ‘Ireland Forever’ in English, are inscribed on the Belfast Lord Mayor’s equivalent, but that’s a story for another blog….
Archive footage of Clarke speaking has been uploaded by RTE to YouTube: