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Statues can tell you a lot about the city that erects them - about its attitudes, its history, its famous sons and daughters, albeit sometimes adopted. Look at its statues, I always say, and you look at the heart and soul of a city. Dublin is blessed by a multitude of monuments, from the abstract to the life-like. Most are in public spaces and many within the city centre, so go exploring!
We start with one of Dublin's nude attractions - Queen Maeve in Burlington Road, full frontal nudity in the middle of Dublin. At a giant size. The massive statue of legendary Connacht Queen Maeve in front of Connaught House (an office complex near the Grand Canal, using the old version of spelling) may well be the most sexually explicit monument in Dublin. Or, come to that, all Ireland. From XXL-long legs to well-rounded buttocks, from bare breasts to a (thankfully thick) thatch of pubic hair.
Why such an explicit sexual theme? Small wonder it is to those who know their Cattle Raid of Cooley ... the... queen was not only known for her beauty and business acumen, but also for her tendency to offer sexual favours to important (but not impotent) allies. He who would fight for her stood a good chance of being killed in battle, but also of slipping between her sheets if he survived with bis manhood intact.Continue to 2 of 16 below.
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Countess Constance Markiewicz in Townsend Street - rebellion? Count her in! One of the Easter 1916 insurgents, and the first female MP to be elected in the United Kingdom.
If Che Guevara is the poster-boy of South American revolution, Countess Constance Markiewicz was the poster-girl for the Easter Rising of 1916. The glamorous socialist socialite is remembered by a bust in St. Stephen's Green, and by a statue somewhat hidden in Townsend Street, complete with her spaniel Poppet (who is, it seems, regularly fed litter by passing pedestrians).Continue to 3 of 16 below.
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The Anna Livia sculpture once stood at the center of O'Connell Street, then it was wiped away for the Spire. After languishing for many years in storage, a new home in the Croppies Memorial Park has been found. Next to the Liffey, opposite of the Guinness brewery. As the surrounding fountain has gone, the statue lost its "jacuzzi," and now somehow looks like a size-zero model having a go at planking, face-up. Not the most inspired re-homing.Continue to 4 of 16 below.
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Veronica Guerin was a campaigning journalist who took Dublin crime bosses by the horns - until they had her gunned down in broad daylight. A bust of her graces the Dubh Linn Gardens. Less impressive but more accessible than her gravestone in the Airport Cemetery. For the full (though slightly "enhanced") story see the movie "Veronica Guerin", starring Cate Blanchett.Continue to 5 of 16 below.
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Everybody sing along - "In Dublin's Fair City, Where Girls are so Pretty ..." having a look at the Molly Malone statue near Trinity College is a must, even though it is of dubious artistic merit. "The Tart with the Cart" could have come straight from music-hall casting. And is obviously wearing a Wonderbra. Cue young male tourists trying to steal a kiss and a fumble ...Continue to 6 of 16 below.
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There is no chance to miss the O'Connell Monument at the bottom of O'Connell Street, the "Liberator" gazes across the Liffey, most of the time with a seagull perched on his head. But have a closer look at the statues surrounding the monument, a caleidoscope of Irish society, flanked by angels. Some of them have holes ... gunshots suffered during the Easter Rising.Continue to 7 of 16 below.
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Charles Stuart Parnell was called "the uncrowned king of Ireland" when he led the Irish Parliamentary Party in its fight for Home Rule. His grave in Glasnevin Cemetery is low-key, but his monument at the top of O'Connell Street is one of Augustus Saint-Gaudens' masterpieces. Notice that the alphabetical list of the 32 counties still includes "King's County" and "Queen's County".Continue to 8 of 16 below.
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James Joyce in Saint Stephen's Green - thinking about the next word he is going to invent.Continue to 9 of 16 below.
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Oscar Wilde was a celebrated writer, wit and bon-vivant - until a homosexual scandal led to a stint in prison. Being gay in Ireland was unmentionable and unforgivable. Today the flamboyant statue of Wilde graces Archbishop Ryan Park in Merrion Square, erected next to a nude female and a shapely, also nude, male torso ...Continue to 10 of 16 below.
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When poet Patrick Kavanagh was asked about a fitting memorial, he mentioned "just a bench somewhere nice". There you have it ... complete with a musing poet. Raglan Road is not too far away either.Continue to 11 of 16 below.
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Brendan Behan was a gifted writer, a sharp wit, a great drinker and a convicted terrorist - fondly remembered for his observation that if he was tried and sentenced to death in absence, the authorities might as well go ahead with the execution in his absence. A fitting memorial to him was erected on the Royal Canal, near Mountjoy Prison ... one of his Dublin addresses.Continue to 12 of 16 below.
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This monument to poet, soldier and patriot can be found in St. Stephen's Green, near rebels' monuments. Yet Kettle died in France, fighting in the British Army.Continue to 13 of 16 below.
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When young Setanta accidentally killed off some ferocious guard dogs, he became Cuchulainn - literally "Colin's Dog". The story of this legendary Celtic warrior is told by an impressive mural on the Setanta Centre (near Trinity College). But the best-known statue of Cuchulainn stands in the General Post Office - showing him dead, tied to a tree, with the crows starting to pick. A fitting memorial to the last stand of the 1916 rebels.Continue to 14 of 16 below.
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The Children of Lir
The legendary "Children of Lir" were chosen for the Garden of Remembrance, representing Ireland in its struggle towards freedom. Actually they are portrayed at the moment of losing their freedom (and human form), but this is a minor detail.Continue to 15 of 16 below.
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One of the most impressive monuments in Dublin is the Victims group in Archbishop Ryan Park (Merrion Square), though it's open to interpretation as to what is actually shown. The monument to all victims of war certainly makes no easy viewing.Continue to 16 of 16 below.
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If heroically dying, one of the repeated themes in Dublin statues, is not your thing, why not watch a movie in the "Screen" cinema near Trinity College instead? You will be guided to your seat by "Mister Screen" a fully uniformed cinema usher with the necessary hand-torch. The charming caricature in front of the cinema (usually showing more "arty" films) is a Dublin must-see.