February 8th, 1971


FROM THE ARCHIVES:SCULPTOR EDWARD Delaney’s original statue of Wolfe Tone, at the corner of St Stephen’s Green opposite the Shelbourne Hotel, was destroyed by a bomb planted by the Ulster Defence Association in one of its first attacks south of the border in 1971. It was later re-cast by Delaney and re-erected on the same spot. - JOE JOYCE

An explosion destroyed the Wolfe Tone memorial at St Stephen’s Green, Dublin early this morning. The Tone figure was shattered, disintegrating in four pieces and leaving only the legs on the plinth. No one was injured by the blast: windows in the nearby Shelbourne Hotel were damaged.

The explosion happened at 1.56 [am] and the report was heard over a wide area of the city: in Rathmines some thought it was a double explosion: obviously it was the echo which carried.

Amazingly, comparatively little damage was done to the surrounding property, apart from windows blown in: the main window damaged in the Shelbourne Hotel – the large plate-glass window on the left-hand side of the entrance door disintegrated 10 minutes after the explosion.

The open nature of the site can be held accountable for the lack of damage done: the explosive – believed to be gelignite – appears to have been sited low down on the figure: the trunk was cut cleanly from the knees.

Gardaí were quickly on the scene – as were night students of UCD who had been staging a sit-out at Dáil Éireann over the weekend.

The explosion proved a diversion for an hour. The site had a lone tree set in concrete and a pair of trousers hung from one of the slim branches. An Army bomb disposal unit later attended the scene but the trousers remained. Naturally the Dublin wits at two in the morning found an explanation for it: “Wolfe Tone was caught with his pants down”.

Investigations on the scene were under Chief Superintendent EJ. Doherty.

The St Stephen’s Green memorial is the second Wolfe Tone monument to have been damaged by an explosion within the past year.

The monument at Bodenstown was damaged last year in an incident for which the UVF claimed responsibility.

The Wolfe Tone memorial in St Stephen’s Green was unveiled on November 18th, 1967, by the President, Mr de Valera.

Made of bronze and stone, its sculptor was Mr Edward Delaney, and its architect Mr M Noel Keating.

The site for the statue, on the north-east corner of St Stephen’s Green, was made available by the Government, which undertook to make a grant of up to £15,000 to supplement the funds of the Wolfe Tone Memorial Committee.

The Tone Memorial Committee was set up in Dublin in 1898 on the occasion of the centenary of the Rising of 1798.

Early this morning gardaí were searching for three cars, two [Ford] Cortinas and an Alfa Romeo which were seen near the Wolfe Tone memorial at the time of the explosion.