Calls to remove only Confederate memorial on Irish soil

Man arrested for attempted bomb attack on statue to Tuam-born Richard Dowling in US

The plaque to Major Richard ‘Dick’ Dowling which was erected in Tuam Town Hall in 1998. Photograph: Wiki Commons

The plaque to Major Richard ‘Dick’ Dowling which was erected in Tuam Town Hall in 1998. Photograph: Wiki Commons

 

A man has been arrested in Houston, Texas after attempting to blow up a statue to an Irish-born commander who is also the subject of the only Confederate memorial on Irish soil.

Andrew Schneck has been detained since federal agents caught him with explosives beside the statue of Major Richard ‘Dick’ Dowling which is situated in Houston’s Hermann Park.

Dowling was born outside Tuam, Co Galway in 1837. His family fled Ireland in 1845 after being evicted.

Separately, Tuam area county councillors will be asked to remove a plaque to Dowling which was erected in Tuam Town Hall in 1998.

The plaque praises Dowling as a “business and civic leader” and the man who formed the first oil company in Texas.

It also mentions that Dowling and his men foiled an invasion of Texas by 5,000 Union Troops at Sabine Pass on September 8th, 1863 during the American Civil War, but does not mention that he was in the Confederate Army.

The plaque praises Dowling as a “business and civic leader” and the man who formed the first oil company in Texas. Photograph: Wiki Commons
The plaque praises Dowling as a “business and civic leader” and the man who formed the first oil company in Texas. Photograph: Wiki Commons

Independent Councillor Shaun Cunniffe said he will be raising the removal of the plaque at the Tuam Municipal Area Meeting on September 11th.

He anticipates there will be “unanimous agreement” that the plaque should be relocated to somewhere else.

He said after the violence in Charlottesville, which followed the proposed removal of the statue of Confederate general Robert E Lee, he was contacted by some people in the United States asking him to have the Dowling plaque removed.

He said: “Our values and principles are ones of freedom and democracy. We shouldn’t commemorate anything that is against that. That is why the plaque should be removed from a civic building.”

Cllr Cunniffe said the plaque was the result of “tunnel vision” on the part of those who highlighted that Dowling had become a successful businessman in America, but failed to mention his support for slavery.

“It is extraordinary that his family were evicted in 1845, he did very well in America, yet fought to enslave other people,” Cllr Cunniffe said.

Dowling has proved to be a controversial character in Houston in recent years. He died at the age of just 30 in 1867. The statue to him which is now in Hermann Park was the first public memorial in Houston and was erected in 1905.

Two streets in the city, Dowling Street and Tuam Street, were named after him. Dowling Street was renamed Emancipation Avenue earlier this year though Tuam Street, just off it, retains the same name.

The name of Dowling Middle School in the city was changed to the Audrey H Lawson Middle School last year as part of a renaming campaign by the city authorities.