Nelson’s Pillar - Vandals, not nationalists

WHEN Britain’s Queen Elizabeth came to Cork, in 2011, as part of her official visit to Ireland, she was shown a statue of her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, a locally made sculpture that once graced the highest gable of Queen’s University Cork, now University College Cork.

John A Murphy, retired professor of history at UCC, related to her the strange tale of how the statue, considered an affront to nationalist sensibilities, was removed from its plinth and buried in the grounds of the college.

Some observers wondered why the statue had not been destroyed. John A was used to such inquiries. His response: “Because they were nationalists, not vandals.”

The claims by two would-be nationalists that they blew up Nelson’s Pillar, on Dublin’s O’Connell Street, lie in stark contrast to what happened in Cork.

In the first place, those who carried out the bombing in 1966 had no regard for the safety of their fellow citizens.

Steve Maughan, a 19-year-old taxi driver, was passing the statue when it blew, pouring rubble onto his car. He became known as ‘the luckiest man in Ireland’.

Secondly, the pillar was 121 feet in height, and the statue itself only 13ft. Why did it not occur to them to remove the statue, which had been the work of Cork sculptor, Thomas Kirk, and leave the pillar intact?

Because they were vandals, not nationalists.

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