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Fr Mathew leaving O'Connell Street for a brand new home

A 124-year-old statue in Dublin's O'Connell Street is being permanently removed to make way for the new Luas track.

The statue of Fr Theobald Mathew, the priest who brought the pledge of sobriety to Ireland, will be taken off the main thoroughfare in 2016.

A spokeswoman from the National Transport Authority (NTA) confirmed the statue's removal and said a new home is being sought for it.

"To facilitate the alignment within the central median of O'Connell Street Upper, the Fr Mathew statue will be carefully removed by the heritage contractor for Luas Cross City, KN Networks Services," the spokeswoman told the Herald.

She added that the Railway Procurement Agency is in "ongoing discussions" in relation to finding a new permanent home for the statue.

The Kilkenny-born Capuchin priest, who was also known as the Apostle of Temperance, led almost three million Irish people to take the pledge of abstinence from alcohol in the 1830s.

Fr Bryan Shortall, a Capuchin priest in Dublin, said his order will not stand in the way of progress for public transport.

"The statue has to be moved to facilitate the ongoing works for the Luas," he said.


"In that sense it's very important for the simple reason that we have to get the city moving. As a Franciscan we should all support public transport as best we can."

The current Luas works involve the linking of the Green Line on the south side of the Liffey with the Red Line on the north side.

Earlier this year, the Molly Malone statue was moved from Grafton Street to outside the tourist information office in Suffolk Street to allow for the Luas works, but it will be returned to its traditional home when they are completed.

"I'd certainly be interested in sitting down with Dublin City Council and having a conversation about relocating it to maybe Fr Mathew Square, which is just opposite our church in Church Street," said Fr Shortall.

He said Fr Mathew was an "amazing character", and that if he was around today he would go about bringing the "drinks industry to its knees".

There is also a statue of Fr Mathew in Cork's main thoroughfare, St Patrick's Street. In 2000, plans to move it were hastily abandoned following protests.