Categories of Special Interest
Architectural, Artistic, Historical, Social, Technical
In Use As
1865 - 1885
Freestanding commemorative bronze monument, commissioned by Dublin Corporation, conceived 1866 by John Henry Foley and completed 1883 by Thomas Brock. Located at southern entrance to O’Connell Street comprising numerous bronze figures on large granite plinth surmounted by bronze figure of Daniel O’Connell (1775-1847). Tall bronze cloaked figure of O’Connell standing on tall cylindrical pedestal, encircled below by bronze frieze of people of Ireland in high-relief, having nearly thirty figures symbolizing church, professions, arts, trades and peasantry. Central figure of Erin trampling upon chains, points upwards and holds 1829 Act of Catholic Emancipation in her left hand. Larger limestone-clad drum sits on square granite base, at angles of which are seated four winged victories, grandly scaled bronze figures representing Patriotism, Courage, Eloquence and Fidelity. Evidence of bullet holes on arms and breasts of two victories, legacy of unrest in 1916-22.
A two-ton Dalkey granite foundation stone for this celebrated and accomplished monument was laid on 8 August 1864 by the Lord Mayor and a competition was initiated by Dublin Corporation to design and finish a sculpture by the centenary of O’Connell’s birth in 1875. There was no resident Irish winner of the competition and John Henry Foley took on the project, followed by Thomas Brock after the death of Foley in 1874. The O’Connell Monument was unveiled to the public on 15 August 1882, on the centenary of the Volunteer Movement and the occasion of the Industrial and Agricultural Exhibition in the Rotunda Gardens. On the same occasion the newly-widened Carlisle Bridge was renamed O’Connell Bridge in honour of its main focal point. The monument is a sculptural tour-de-force in bronze, depicting O'Connell at about twice life size standing proudly and looking southwards, with his back to Admiral Nelson when the monument was erected. The motif of Erin holding the Act of Catholic Emancipation and trampling chains represents the struggle for religious freedom. The application of the shields of the four provinces also emphasizes Irish nationalism and nationhood. At the time O’Connell’s statue was unveiled the only other monumental statue on the Street was the large granite Doric column erected in 1808 to Admiral Nelson, and a small statue of 1879 to Sir John Gray. Many more sculptures have been introduced on the central median since and the Parnell Monument unveiled in 1911 on the north end of the street counterbalances the monumental scale of the O’Connell Monument. The monument is also a prominent meeting place and is colloquially known as 'The Angels'.