Molly and her barrow to be wheeled on for Luas works

Statue is one of several moving to make way for cross-city line


Some of Dublin’s most familiar monuments, including the Molly Malone statue at the bottom of Grafton Street, are soon to be on the move to make way for the construction of the cross-city Luas line.

The famous street trader and her wheelbarrow have been caught in a tug-of-love between city councillors on either side of the city in recent months, with northsiders agitating to have the statue moved to what they say is her “spiritual home” on Moore Street.

She is, however, to stay on the southside but will be moved from her current location to a spot outside the tourist office in the former St Andrew’s church on nearby Suffolk Street.

Molly Malone will be kept on display because of her draw as a tourist attraction but other monuments will be put into storage. These include the statue of 19th-century lyricist Thomas Moore, erected in 1857, which stands outside the disused public toilets at the traffic island on College Street. The same fate awaits the 1891 statue of temperance leader Fr Theobald Mathew on the O’Connell Street median near the Savoy cinema.

The Lady Grattan fountain, also known as the horse trough, on St Stephen’s Green, donated to the city as a drinking fountain by Lady Laura Grattan (daughter-in-law of Henry Grattan) in 1880 is also going into storage, as is the more modern Steine sculpture, or long stone, at the corner of D’Olier Street near Pearse Street Garda station. The granite stone was erected in 1986 to commemorate the Viking landings.

A number of more minor historic features such as the lamp standards on the O’Connell Bridge median, railings at the Rotunda Hospital and a number of paving stones and bollards will also be removed and stored for reinstatement later.

The contract for the work has been awarded to SIAC Construction, which will manage a range of specialist sub-contractors, including stone masons, bronze experts, structural specialists and transport and crane specialists. Preliminary works will begin in the coming weeks.

The first monuments to be removed will be the Lady Grattan fountain and the Steine sculpture, with Molly Malone and Thomas Moore due for removal early next year.

A spokeswoman for the Luas project said the monuments would be stored at facilities in Ireland, and would only be moved as works got close to them so they would be off the street for the least amount of time. The statues and monuments would be returned to their original locations or as close as possible, she said. Some are being moved to allow machinery on site, but others will be in the path of the tracks so new locations will be required.

Two of the city’s most important statues – the O’Connell and Parnell monuments on O’Connell Street, which were scheduled for removal if the Metro North was built – will not be moved for the Luas line.

The 5.6km line from St Stephen’s Green to Broombridge in Cabra is due to be completed in 2017 and is expected to add 10 million passengers a year to the Luas system. The existing lines carried 30 million passengers last year.

Work on the line began last June with the filling in of cellars on the historic city-centre streets along the route.