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What was there before the Spire?

The highest structure in the city centre where we all meet before going to a pub or a party. To be true, I don’t like it. There is only one difference between the Spire and the next ugliest thing I’ve ever seen. It’s a national symbol. What was there before it?

Fifty years ago an Irish republican blew up a statue of Nelson on top of a 41m-high pillar – not the one in London’s Trafalgar Square but another in the centre of Dublin.

Now 83, Nelson’s enemy says he has no regrets – but hates the spire that has replaced the admiral even more. “He was the wrong man, in the wrong place at the wrong time” – says Liam Sutcliffe, the man who made perhaps the most radical alteration ever to Dublin’s skyline and I don’t know if it was all that smart. Everybody has heard about Nelson’s statue in London, but fortunately the Spire is only well known in Ireland.

Horatio Nelson was the most famous admiral of the Napoleonic Wars who has been celebrated ever since as the greatest sea warrior in British history. He was also one of the most loved leaders amongst the seamen of the Royal Navy. Nelson was famous for fighting side by side with his crews during many of the battles, but didn’t die then, so it was probably just gossip.

The London statue of him, erected more than three decades later, was about 10m taller.

This statue was the city’s most prominent monument by far. A place where young lovers met on their first date, or where folks would gather before a messy night in town

It was in Dublin centre since 1809, thanks partly to the generosity of Irish merchants – including the Guinness family – to pay tribute to an admiral who had made the high seas safe for trade. But, as you see, not everybody appreciated it.

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