The other Green agenda
Sir, – The restoration of the Yeats Memorial in St Stephen’s Green in Dublin deserves celebration. However, another part of the Green remains unrenovated. Even to mention it is problematic in this febrile moment.
I refer to the flowerbed in the centre of the park that was once occupied by a statue of King George II on a horse.
The monarch was a controversial presence, and at one point there were calls to replace him with the Duke of Wellington.
But apparently a king, even a dead one, cannot be asked to make way for a subject. In any case, despite being born around the corner, it is unlikely that the Duke’s presence would have pleased the IRA, who tried to blow George up on several occasions. It finally succeeded in 1937.
Since then, no one can agree on a suitable replacement. This is a shame, because the park might be greatly enhanced by a centrepiece. Is the matter so sensitive that we cannot discuss it anymore?
One solution would be to rebuild the old statue. It was, after all, rather striking. As we approach the centenary of our independence, this would be an eloquent demonstration of maturity in Anglo-Irish relations. And with the benefit of round-the-clock supervision, George would remain in situ for at least three weeks.
Dublin once had an international reputation for the quality of its equestrian statuary. Should we simply rebuild George’s horse and call the poor beast Shergar? Definitely not. Shergar was a stallion. We could do with more women on plinths – and more variety, too. Countess Markievicz is already the subject of three statues in the capital alone. (This reminds me that Luke Kelly was forgotten until recently, when two statues appeared simultaneously. Dubliners regard them as sure-fire hits.)
If we had to replace the statue of George this summer, some readers would want to salute our frontline workers. A noble idea, this reminds us that statues reflect the moment in which we choose to erect them.
With that observation in mind, another candidate for the centre of the Green is Jack Charlton. He is surely the only Englishman who could possibly survive the attention of local critics.
Filling that George-sized hole may prove too explosive a subject for this or any other summer. We could be left with the flowerbed forever.
To be fair, it does look particularly beautiful at the moment.
Perhaps we should call it the Molly Bloom? – Yours, etc,
The Little Museum
St Stephen’s Green,