From top: The Statue of Viscount Fitzgibbon, Wellesley Bridge, Limerick destroyed in 1930  and its replacement The Limerick 1916 Memorial, Sarsfield Bridge, Limerick. Erected in 1954.

Further to the felling yesterday of the statue of slave trader Edward Calston in Bristol, England….

…Historian Liam Hogan writes:

Monuments are temporal symbols of power and politics. Territorial markings.

A statue or monument is not “history”. Its construction, retention, reverence, preservation, defence, relocation, removal, destruction, detonation (or unceremonious dump into a river) is.

At top is The Statue of Viscount Fitzgibbon, Wellesley Bridge, Limerick. Erected in 1885.

Above is: The Limerick 1916 Memorial, Sarsfield Bridge, Limerick. Erected in 1954.

Exact same location but very different social and political landscapes.

Viscount Fitzgibbon was killed during the Charge of the Light Brigade. He was the grandson of Lord Fitzgibbon the 1st Earl of Clare, infamous for his role in suppressing the 1798 rebellion and imposing the Act of Union with no concessions for Catholics.

For nationalists and republicans the monument thus represented the Protestant Ascendancy, elitism, allegiance to the Act of Union and loyalty to the British Empire.

Which is why there were at least three unsuccessful attempts to destroy it before the IRA eventually obliterated it with explosives in 1930.

Cllr Place attempted to pass a resolution condemning this act but it failed to garner the support of his peers. Alderman Wallace commented that “Fitzgibbon has passed, it is just as well that he has, as the class who erected him have also.”

Earlier: A Limerick A Day

Liam Hogan



10 thoughts on “Moving Statues

  1. goldenbrown

    I watched a clever 2 part BBC documentary (might still be on the iPlayer) last year called “Britain’s Forgotten Slave Owners” I’d highly recommend

    It took a very clever tack – instead of the usual historical review the researcher instead used the actual ledgers associated with the compo payouts made to investors to find out the spread and depth of who was invested in the slaving industry….that was an actual thing in case you didn’t know!! The Brits eventually abolished slavery in 1834 but abolition but only because parliament voted to compensate the slave owners for loss of their “property”….£17 Billion in today’s money?!!

    Anyway some of the primary compo recipients you would easily guess, usual top 1% suspects like the voting MP’s themselves, landed gentry, industrialists and the like but others were fairly surprising – Vicars, small Farmers, Tradesmen etc. who were investing in share schemes set up around this highly developed and socially acceptable industry, plenty of Irish were involved as investors and direct participants.

    As a part of the process financial, commercial, legal and insurance institutions were born to support the activities of the slave traders – Barclays Bank, Barings Bank, Lloyds of London Insurance….

    It’s very easy to join the dots to living and breathing ancestors today that exist on old money generated out of the slavery industry.

  2. Kate

    In 1877 the Earl of Limerick gifted the beautiful People’s Park to the people of Limerick, a real asset to the people & the city today. Limerick Council disgracefully sold part of the Park to a private developer in most deceitful manner to erect block of apartments in 2005. The current Earl was livid – he believed he was signing park over to the Council unaware that apartment block was planned — he returned cheque that covered his legal cost and told them to wipe their a…. with it. Corruption alive and well in Limerick. Locals and councillors were unaware of the nod, nod wink wink deal.

  3. Rob_G

    I’m not sure I get Dr. Ward’s point – do any of the people in that list have statues in Ireland celebrating them?

      1. Rob_G


        That’s the thing – slavery was awful, and so is the fact that there were Irish people owning slaves, but it’s not as if we go around putting up statues saying they great they were.

  4. Ringsend Incinerator

    If you tear down a statue without authorization in Ireland the statue sues you for compensation. Allianz will send out a toss adjuster on the spot.


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