Blowing up Nelson’s Pillar
Sir, – Hugh Linehan writes about the night Nelson fell from his majestic pedestal in O’Connell Street (“The night Nelson’s Pillar fell and changed the face of Dublin”, March 5th). He alludes to the Army removing the remains in a “further controlled explosion which does far more damage than the original bomb did to shop windows and fittings along the street”. This is incorrect. At a council meeting on November 7th, 1966, Matthew Macken, the city manager, gave the figures for the subsequent claims received by his office. A total of 36 claims were received for malicious damage following the first blast, totalling £18,864, 19 shillings, and three pence; and 33 claims for damage to property,totalling £4,180, 9 shillings, and 10 pence, after the Army demolition. The latter figure may have included a sum of £995, 17 shillings and 10 pence for scaffolding hired and destroyed during the operation.
The operation was conducted by the Army Corps of Engineers under the direction of Col RGG Mew and carried out by Comdt Jim Seward.
I was a student military engineer in the Curragh at the time and visited the site during the preparation phase in a rather unanticipated change to our course programme.
The perpetrator of the first blast had the advantages of blowing the pillar from the inside and from above street level. The Army engineers had to carry out their explosion from ground level and from outside the pillar, as the stairwell remaining was full of rubble from the first blast. Some collateral damage was inevitable and mainly caused by air pressure changes. A civilian expert on the use of explosives in urban settings was present that night and stated that he was impressed with the conduct and result of the operation.
The myth has being doing the rounds ever since and probably will continue. – Yours, etc,
and former director,
Army Corps of Engineers),
Athlone, Co Westmeath.
Sir, – May I have some column inches to suggest that Hugh Linehan should be pilloried for his suggestion that Eleanor Rigby was in the British charts on March 8th, 1966? The track (a double A-side single with Yellow Submarine ) was released by the Beatles on August 5th, 1966. – Yours, etc,