Daniel O'Connell Monument

Daniel O'Connell monument, Dublin Ireland, Public Art

Public Art: Daniel O'Connell monument

Sculptor: © John Henry Foley (May 24, 1818 - August 27, 1874)

Date: Unveiled in 1882

Description: The 40ft monument features ; a 14ft bronze statue of O’Connell (wrapped in his cloak) at the top; a frieze in the middle representing the ‘Maid of Erin’, her right hand raised pointing to O’Connell, her liberator, and in her left hand the 1829 Act of Catholic Emancipation ;and four bronze winged victories at the base. The frieze features over thirty figures which symbolise the Church, the professions, the arts and the trades. Each of the Victory statues represent the virtues attributed to O’Connell – patriotism, courage, eloquence and fidelity. There are bullet holes in two of the victories. The statues stands on a granite plinth.

Location: End of O'Connell Street, Dublin, Ireland.

Commissioned By : Originally the O’Connell Monument Committee and then later Dublin Corporation.

Cost: Approximately £10,000

Background of Daniel O'Connell: Daniel O'Connell (6 August 1775 – 15 May 1847) also known as "The Liberator" or"The Emancipator" who campaigned for Catholic Emancipation (the right for Catholics to sit in the Westminster Parliament, denied for over 100 years) and Repeal of the Union between Ireland and Great Britain.

History of the Daniel O'Connell Monument : The O'Connell monument took nearly 18 years for sculptor John Foley and his studio to complete. It was decided, following the death of O'Connell in 1847, that a monument would be an appropriate gesture to commemorate of his life. A committee was set up by Sir John Gray with the understanding that the monument would reflect "his whole character and career, from the cradle to the grave so as to embrace the whole nation." On the 8th of August 1864, a 2 ton Dalkey granite foundation stone was laid on Sackville St (later changed to O'Connell Street) by Lord Mayor Peter Paul McSwiney.  The Dublin Corporation who took over the responsibility of the monument and in 1864 ran a competition to find the best design. In the mean time Sir John Gray consulted Irish-born sculptor John Henry Foley, who did not enter the competition and who no longer lived in Ireland. This action was not looked on favourably by the newspapers, who felt it unpatriotic to have a "foreigner" (so to speak) create such an important monument. The competition went ahead as planned and Gray continued discussing the project with Foley despite the disapproval. By January 1865 the committee had received sixty designs which were all displayed at City Hall. All the submissions were rejected and further competitions were held, to no avail. Foley was again consulted under the proviso that he have a "resident" Irish sculptor to assist him in designing subsidiary figures. Foley was not happy and rejected the idea. He later agreed to compromise by having a having an Irish architect submit designs (which he might or might not incorporate). Foley reject the three designs submitted and continued on regardless. In 1871 the committee received a project report by Foley which was not very promising. Due to Foley's deteroriating health, massive work load and procrastination the project would be delayed until 1875. Unfortunately Foley died in 1874 leaving his apprentice, Thomas Brock, who was formally commissioned in June 1878, to complete the monument.  At the time of his death Foley's Islington studio was working on the Daniel O'Connell Monument, Lovji Nusserwanjee Wadia Statue (a shipping magnate from Gujarat ), Prince Albert Memorial (the Queen's late husband), General Sir Hugh Gough statue (a military general who conquered the Punjab), and Stonewall Jackson statue (the leader of the Confederates during the US Civil War ). The monument was finally unveiled in 1882. The momument bares the scars of Irish conflicts between 1916-1922. If you look closely up at the angels (only two of them) you should see evidence of bullet marks.

 Daniel O'Connell monument, O'Connell Street, Dublin, Ireland Daniel O'Connell monument, O'Connell Street, Dublin, IrelandDaniel O'Connell monument, O'Connell Street, Dublin, Ireland

Trivia: The street on which the monument stands was originally called Sackville Street, however because patriotic cab (taxi) drivers referred to the street as O'Connell and ignored any other reference the street was renamed O'Connell Street.

Well I Never! : Soft drink bottles are frequently placed in the angel's hands.

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