The Galway MP who got thrown in the river

Public lecture on the life of controversial Galwegian Lord Dunkellin and his statue

A postcard showing Lord Dunkellin's statue in Eyre Square.

A postcard showing Lord Dunkellin's statue in Eyre Square.

IN MAY 1922, a bronze memorial statue to Lord Dunkellin, which had stood in Eyre Square for almost 50 years, was pulled from its pedestal and dumped into the River Corrib. It disappeared overnight and has never resurfaced.

This Saturday at 2.30pm in the Galway City Museum, local historian John Joe Conwell will give a lecture giving the background to the memorial statue and explaining why it became a target for vandalism.

The eldest son of the Lord Clanricarde of Portumna, Lord Dunkellin (1827-1867 ) served as MP for both Galway borough and county. Unveiled in 1873, the statue was created by renowned Victorian sculptor John Henry Foley, who is also responsible for the monument to Daniel O’Connell on O’Connell Street in Dublin.

In an article for the Galway Advertiser in 2010, Tom Kenny noted how Clanricarde’s tenants were forced to contribute to the cost of the statue. During the Land War, Dunkellin’s younger brother, then Lord Clanricarde, was in the eye of the storm of the Woodford and other evictions. He was hated by his tenants and much of the population.

After the British army evacuated Renmore Barracks, The Galway Observer of May 27 1922 reported how, "a rope was put round the neck of the statue and it was drawn by thousands through the main streets with band playing Irish reels and hornpipes and taken out to the pier head where it was thrown into the water...“Let it go boys” said Mr Larkin, “and may the devil and all rotten landlordism go with it”. As the body was hurried into the sea, the band amidst a roar of joyous laughter, played ‘I’m for ever blowing bubbles’.”

Admission to the lecture is free but places are limited and should be booked in advance through 091 - 532460 or email [email protected].

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