While there is plenty of talk about next year being the centenary of the Easter Rising, it is also worth pointing out it will mark the fiftieth anniversary of the destruction of the Nelson Pillar on O’Connell Street. In 2014 I wrote The Pillar: The Life and Afterlife of the Nelson Pillar, an illustrated history of the monument that includes plenty of previously unpublished photos from Pól Ó Duibhir, who had the good sense to make his way down to O’Connell Street the morning after the night before, camera in hand. It’s currently available at a special price direct from the publisher, with free postage.
I was delighted to work with the Little Museum of Dublin on a new information panel on the monument, which has taken pride of place in the front room of their Dublin collection. Trevor White, Simon O’Connor and the others behind the museum of twentieth century Dublin share an obsession in Horatio Nelson’s doomed Doric column with us, and the story of its destruction in 1966 has been told on tours of the Museum since it opened to the public.
The information panel looks at, among other things:
- The Nelson Pillar and the 1916 Rising.
- The attitude of W.B Yeats and other public voices to the monument.
- Proposed replacement statues over the years.
- The eventual destruction of the monument.
What’s exciting about it for me is in the inclusion of physical artefacts alongside the panel. There are two surviving chunks (of very different sizes) of the pillar, a tram destination sign, postcards featuring the monument and other bits and pieces that help to tell the story. The piece nicely compliments the model of the pillar placed in the museum a few months ago.
On the subject of the Little Museum, I should remind readers that every Saturday and Sunday I offer the ‘Green Mile’ tour, a one hour history of Stephen’s Green, that leaves from the Museum at 11.30am. It is included in the standard admission cost of the Museum. While the weather lately has been ‘for the ducks’ so to speak, it’s a chance to see some real ones up close.