But if the artist was popular, the subject of his artwork was not. In
the first place, Clanricarde’s tenants were forced to contribute to the
cost. During the Land War, Dunkellin’s younger brother, now Lord
Clanricarde, was in the eye of the storm of the Woodford and other
evictions. He was hated by his tenants and much of the population.
As soon as the British army evacuated Renmore Barracks, this statue
became a target. The Galway Observer of May 27th, 1922 reported the
“On Thursday night, a crowd numbering several thousands assembled inside
the Square, and two men set to work sawing at the base of the life-size
bronze monument of Lord Dunkellin, a brother of the late Lord
Clanricarde. A rope was afterwards procured and fastened around the
neck, and with a strong pull, over it went amidst great applause. This
monument was erected in 1873, and subscribed for by the Clanricarde
tenantry, a good deal of which it was stated, was obtained from the
people by threats. When the monument disappeared in the rere, the
pedestal was mounted by Mr. W.J. Larkin, Mr. S.J. Cremin, Secretary of
the Transport Workers Union, and Mr. P. Kiely, Secretary Galway Tenants
Mr. Cremin made a lengthy speech in which he said they went before the
Urban Council that day, and told them they would pull down that monument
which had just fallen to the ground. It was a symbol of landlord
tyranny, and they intended to pull down every monument of its kind in
Ireland, and put a monument of some good Irishman in its place. The
speaker then went on to denounce the present members of the Urban
Council, and also the new magistrates as not being representative of the
people, and being indifferent to the wants of workers. There was no
justice to be had for the workers in the new courts any more than the
old courts. They had, he said, 375 houses in town certified by a doctor
as unfit for human habitation, and they had sewerage running into the
main water pipe. At the Urban Council meeting that day, they wanted to
see the schemes of the new houses, which they said was drafted, but they
were refused a look at them, and he would not be surprised if those
schemes were drafted in the back parlour of some landlord in town. The
tenants of Galway were not out to abolish all landlords, and would not
stop till they had every tenant the owner of a roof over his head.
After the meeting, a rope was put round the neck of the statue and it
was drawn by thousands through the main streets with band playing Irish
reels and hornpipes and taken out to the pier head where it was thrown
into the water.
The scene at the pier head was of the most extraordinary kind. The
thousands who followed (and dragged the ‘corpse’) cheering wildly. As
the ‘body’ was being hurried into the sea opposite Devil’s head on the
Claddagh side, Mr. Larkin stated that neither Gettysburg, Bodenstown or
Greece had sufficient eloquence to panagerize such a ‘corpse’ ----- “Let
it go boys” said Mr. Larkin “and may the devil and all rotten
landlordism go with it”. As the body was hurried into the sea, the band
amidst a roar of joyous laughter, played “I’m for ever blowing bubbles”.
The next morning, the statue had disappeared from the Quay Stream,
removed by some enterprising person. It has never been seen since. The
base was removed to Castlegar, reworked, and today ironically, it is a
base for a memorial to the Old IRA.
Our thanks to Jonathan Margetts for today’s photograph.
Please forward any queries/comments to
View the Old Galway Archive.