Wednesday 13 December 2017

O'Connell Street statue will be moving for Luas

On the move: Fr Matthew
On the move: Fr Matthew

A 124-year-old statue on 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 capital's 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," said the spokeswoman.

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," Fr Shortall added.

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

Earlier this year, the Molly Malone statue was moved from the bottom of Grafton Street to Nassau Street to allow for the Luas works but it will be reinstated to its traditional home when the works 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 on Church Street," Fr Shortall added.

The Dublin priest said Fr Mathew was an "amazing character", and if he was around today he would bring the "drinks industry to its knees"./

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


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