First World War soldier sculpture vandalised in Dublin

Gardaí confirm they are investigating ‘criminal damage’ to statue in St Stephen’s Green

Sabina Purcell, who organised for 'The Haunted Soldier' to be installed in Dublin, says that the defacing of artwork is 'disgraceful. Video: Ronan McGreevy

 

The first World War scrap metal sculpture, the Hauntings Soldier, installed in Dublin earlier this month, was vandalised in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Gardaí confirmed they are investigating “criminal damage” caused to a statue in St Stephen’s Green at approximately 2am on Thursday. It appears to have had red paint thrown on it.

“No arrests have been made at this stage. A scene is currently in place at the statue. Investigations are continuing ,” a Garda spokeswoman said.

The sculpture was damaged in the early hours of Thursday. Photograph: Ronan McGreevy
The sculpture was damaged in the early hours of Thursday. Photograph: Ronan McGreevy
Attempts to clean the vandalised Hautings Soldier sculpture are underway in St Stephens Green, Dublin. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Attempts to clean the vandalised Hautings Soldier sculpture are underway in St Stephens Green, Dublin. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Workmen clean the Hautings Soldier which in St Stephen’s Green, Dublin. Photograph: Collins
Workmen clean the Hautings Soldier which in St Stephen’s Green, Dublin. Photograph: Collins

Solicitor Sabina Purcell, who brought the sculpture to Ireland, said she was “very upset” about what happened and those involved did not represent the vast majority of people in Ireland.

“This is not who we are as people,” she said. “Thousands of people have come to see this statue. The goodwill towards it has been tremendous. The public have shown nothing but respect for this sculpture. Would I do it again? Yes I would.”

An information board and two wreaths, left by the New Zealand rugby team and on behalf of Dublin GAA, were also vandalised in the attack. She pointed out that the wreath from the All Blacks was to honour its first captain, Donegal-born Dave Gallaher, who was killed at the Battle of Passchendaele in 1917.

“It’s disgraceful, I can’t believe it,” she said. “They clearly planned this and they had the red paint ready. I would urge anybody who has seen or heard it to get in touch with the gardaí at Pearse Street Station.”

Maurice Manning, the chair of the expert advisory group on the decade of cenentaries, said the vandalism was in marked contrast to the respectful way armistice commemorations were carried out across the country.

“It does not reflect the feelings of the vast majority of the people who have been so generous in their acknowledgement of all the armistice ceremonies,” he said.

The Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan said: “This installation honours all those who died in the terrible suffering of World War I. It is incredibly moving and has been proved immensely popular.

“There is no bravery in throwing paint at a statute in the middle of the night.”

Created in 2017 in Dorset, England, the statue is more than six metres in height and depicts a weary-looking soldier with a pack, leaning on his rifle.

It was installed near the entrance to St Stephen’s Green on Saturday November 3rd, overseen by its creator, Dorset-based blacksmith Martin Galbavy, and Chris Hannam, who owns the forge where the Hauntings Soldier was assembled. It will be in St Stephen’s Green until Sunday.