Friday 15 December 2017

Capital gets its own moving statues

Paul Melia

DUBLIN is to have its own moving statues.

Some of the capital's most iconic monuments are to be relocated from O'Connell Street to allow construction of the Metro North light-rail system to go ahead.

The Liberator himself, Daniel O'Connell, will be liberated from his home along with James Larkin, John Gray and William Smith O'Brien for a four-year holiday at the National Museum of Ireland at Collins Barracks, the Railway Procurement Agency (RPA) said yesterday.

The four statues -- one has stood on the capital's main thoroughfare since 1870 -- will be moved as part of the Metro North project, which is expected to begin next year assuming planning permission is granted.

An Bord Pleanala is expected to give its decision this month, after which the project is subject to government sign-off. Transport Minister Noel Dempsey has repeatedly said the project will go ahead.

The four monuments will be removed from O'Connell Street between March and June next year, before being shipped to Collins Barracks where they will go on display in the courtyard.

They have to be moved because the RPA will be building underground stations for the 18km light-rail line over four years, and need access from street level. The stone plinth and bases will be put in storage, meaning the statues will be at eye level at Collins Barracks.

"Four monuments on O'Connell Street will be relocated," project director Rory O'Connor said. "They will go on display in Collins Barracks and will be at ground level so people have the opportunity to see them up close.

"They have to be moved to allow construction of the station boxes, so they'll be gone for four years. It takes three years to build the station box, and about another year to fit them out with escalators.

"The statues should be back by 2016 (in time for the 1916 Centenary), but a small area of the street will be cordoned off."


The 18km Metro North will run from St Stephen's Green to Belinstown, north of Swords, and will have 17 stops.

Some 11km of the line will be underground and up to 8,000 passengers per hour in each direction are expected to use the line, rising to 20,000 over time.

When running, up to 12 million car trips a year will be taken off the city streets. The project will create more than 4,000 full-time construction jobs.

The RPA's heritage manager Donncha O Dulaing said William Smith O'Brien's statue had already been moved.

"He was originally on the southside facing the Four Courts, and this is not the first time he's been moved," he said. "In 1926, he was moved to facilitate traffic movements.

"Two of the pieces -- the O'Brien and John Gray -- are made from Sicilian marble, the other two are bronze. Jim Larkin is the most recent one, erected in 1979 and he's maintained by SIPTU.

"These have a national and international profile. People have a great love for them. Moving them gives a real opportunity for people to see them up close as it's hard to see the craftmanship where they are today. It also gives us an opportunity to do conservation works."

Irish Independent

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