We've Always been

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Sidebar

26
Thu, Nov

Tools
Typography

It was with growing bewilderment, irritation and finally anger that I recently read of the removal of four historic statues from Dublin’s Shelbourne Hotel; and I began to wonder just why I was getting so bloody vexed and riled up over it. I do surprise myself sometimes.
But in another life that started on December 2, 1983 I worked in the Shelbourne Hotel for many years; and, despite some really great people being employed there, I didn’t care for the company who owned it at the time – Trust Houses Forte. Come to think of it, even now I break out in a rash when I hear that name.
In fairness to them, with the attitude problem and well-balanced chip on both shoulders that I carried around for far too long, it probably wouldn’t have mattered who I was working for.
Yet it turns out that, despite everything, I have a deep respect for the building and the memory of events that have taken place there over the decades. In other words, I care for Irish history. Which is more than the current owners do, since they cravenly caved into an implied threat that was half-assed and ill-informed at best.
A few weeks ago the management released a weasel-like statement to the effect that they had taken the noble and virtuous decision to remove four statues which portray African and Egyptian women (two of them mistakenly identified as slaves) that have apparently been offending Dubliners for over a century and a half. Amazingly, I worked in Dublin for nearly twenty years and was totally unaware of and not at all offended by all this! Neither was the rest of the population; but you live and learn. We now know that we were wrong in our indifference to the suffering of those poor statues.
The management went on to say that the decision to desecrate the front of the building was in light of *sigh* ‘world events’ and…wait for it… the Black Lives Matter movement. Virtue signaling at its finest.
And then it got even worse: it turned out that the management hadn’t had a sudden rush of blood to the brainpan after all! With utter incredulity I learned that the original complaint had been made by – and I’m still trying to get my head around this – the editor of Irish Central, Niall O’Dowd. And he says that he had received an email from ‘an angry Irish American.’
Ah well, it all makes sense now: an angry Irish American got a bee in his backside, wanted to be seen as caring and –that appalling new word – ‘woke’; and got on to Irish Central, who were outraged on behalf of all we uneducated peasants who actually live here. And I’m an easy-going kind of guy so I was more than happy with that explanation, although rather concerned for where the statues have been moved to. Are they locked in a room with other statues of evil Christopher Columbus and wicked Winston Churchill? We need to know.
Fortunately Senator Michael McDowell isn’t quite so easy-going – in fact he’s been described as a bit of a Rottweiler – and he wasn’t having any of this nonsense.
[And wouldn’t you know it? I’d just had my bi-annual rant about the uselessness of the Seanad chancers when along comes one of the few who is worth listening to. Talk about Sod’s Law. Then again, McDowell is a senior council and genuine, battle-scarred politician, so the exception proves the rule. That’s my story anyway and I’m sticking to it.]
McDowell said: “I am objecting to the woke generation operating for all. The removal of the statues was wrong. It was unlawful. It is part of the complete idiocy.
“The Shelbourne is a protected structure [my emphasis] and, as such, permission is required to take down the statues. Permission is required to take any action under Section 8 of the Planning Act 2000. The removal is ‘unauthorised’.
“I notified the council and they served a warning letter. The penalties under the Act are a fine of up to €10m or two years imprisonment!”
Dear oh dear. Let me catch my breath for a moment here. Solitary angry Irish American sticks his oar in; writes to an American publication that I would have thought was on the side of sanity; management of famous Irish hotel thinks it will look good if it sucks up to the Black Lives Matter movement; lots of people end up with egg on faces. Right. I think I’ve got it. Carry on, Senator McDowell:
“Mr. O’Dowd announced he had discovered they were slaves and said ‘for shame...’ What’s amazing is that on Mr. O’Dowd’s website he calls the statues ‘cretinous’.
“An ignorant error has been made here. The statues do not depict slave girls.”
This farce has escalated into the defacement of a beautiful and iconic Irish building, with the willing complicity of a cowardly management; there are no excuses for them, but again in the interests of fairness I can see where Niall O’Dowd has screwed up.
I dug out my copy of The Shelbourne and its People, published in 1999 and written by Michael O’Sullivan and Bernardine O’Neill. I had forgotten what an enjoyable read it is, with some great anecdotes from a fairly recent past that seems now to be in some ways impossibly distant.
On page 16 the authors note that “four granite pedestals support full-sized bronze figures of Egyptian princesses and their attendant Nubian slave girls. The four quickly became known by Dublin wags as the last four virgins in Dublin… These four ladies holding their torches stand sentinel in front of the hotel and have become its most enduring emblem.”
I knew Michael O’Sullivan back in the day and he was a witty and erudite man, not to mention a meticulous researcher; so I wonder did the original mistake come from Elizabeth Bowen’s book on the hotel, written in the 50s? I don’t own a copy so I’m only guessing here. Whatever happened, it’s one of those instances of political bloody correctness getting totally out of hand as usual.
I’ll leave almost the last word to Mr. McDowell:
“If people want to be offended, by all means go ahead. But these were not slave girls and whoever took the decision to remove them did so without knowing Irish law.”
Senator McDowell, I think that you’ve just become my personal hero. FREE THE SHELBOURNE FOUR!
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Advertise

Paying For
Instructions

 

Athenry By Cahal Dunne

SUBSCRIBE: Buy 1 get 2 - Buy 2 get 3! - Buy 3 get 6 years!

SUB SPECIAL

November Linked Edition

Oct Digital Edition w/links

Irish Book Club

Advertising Rates 2020

Shop Irish!

ARTIST
Bryan Boylan
ASSISTED LIVING
Aishling Companion Homecare
Homecare Angels

ATTORNEY

Murphy & Smith Ltd
Dwyer and Coogan
Healy Law

Miller & McGing Law Firm 773-467-8000
BAGPIPERS & DRUM CLASSES

Chicalba Bagpiping

BAKERY
Doughs Guys Bakery
BANKS
First National Bank of Brookfield

Marquette National Bank
BANQUETS
Gaelic Park
Irish Am Heritage Ctr
BEAUTY SALONS
Appearances Pk Ridge
 847-825-7615
Hair by O'Hara & Friends-Hometown
BOOKS - IRISH
TheIrishBookClub.com
BRICK REPAIR/REPLACEMENT
Shamrock Tuckpointing
CARPET CLEANER
Sheila's Carpet Shampooligans
CATERERS
Harrington's Catering & Deli
Unforgettable Edibles
CHARITABLE ORG

Mercy Home
IrishCommunityServices
CAULKING & SEALING
Shamrock Tuckpointing
CHIMNEY REPAIR

Shamrock Tuckpointing

CHOIR
Irish Heritage Singers
COTTAGE RENTAL
Cottage Mary Rose
Dingle Cottage: 312-399-8793
Gurtenard Hse - Listowel Co Kerry
CRUISES

Andy Cooney
Phil Coulter Tranquility Cruise
CULTURAL ORGANIZATIONS

Chicago Gaelic Park

iBAM!
Irish Am Heritage Ctr
Irish Am Society Co Will
Irish Heritage Singers
DANCE SCHOOLS

McNulty School of Dance
Trinity Irish Dance
ENTERTAINERS

Chicalba Bagpiping

Paddy Homan
The Larkin Brothers
Catherine O'Connell
Joe McShane
Whiskey Mick Irish Rock
FESTIVALS

Arlington Heights
Dublin

IAHC
Indianapolis
Kansas City
Milwaukee
Naperville Aug 7-8 2020
FINANCIAL PLANNER

Corrigan Financial
FLORIST

Garland Flowers
FUNERAL HOMES

Blake-Lamb

Gibbon's Funeral Homes
Roberty J Sheehy & Sons

GAELIC YOUTH FOOTBALL
773-719-2847 Jerry
GARBAGE REMOVAL
Flood Brothers Disposal
GOLF COURSES
Palos Golf
GRAPHIC DESIGN

Laura Coyle 773-343-7268
GROCERIES/MEAT

O'Connor's Market

Winston's

HOTELS

The Irish Cottage 1 866 CU-IRISH
HUMAN RESOURCE CONSULTANT
James Fitzgerald
IMMIGRATION SERVICES

IrishCommunityServices
IMPORT SHOPS
Ann's Irish Gifts

Celtica Gifts 773-784-7712
Donegal Imports
Gaelic Imports
Irish Shop
INSURANCE

American Family-Joan McKee
Riordan Insurance
JEWELERS

H. Watson
MUSIC SCHOOLS
Chgo Academy of Piping/Drumming
Irish Music School of Chgo
MYSTERY SHOPPER
Cathy Cooney-Millar 224-944-9654

PARTY PLANNERS
That Special Event

PENNY WHISTLES
Michael Burke
PHOTOGRAPH CAPTURING
Memoirs for Me
PHYSICAL THERAPY
SPORTS-ORTHOPEDIC
Athletex
PLASTERING

William McNulty & Son
708-386-2951
PUB/RESTAURANT RECRUITER
Cathy Cooney-Millar
PUBS & RESTAURANTS

Ashford House
The Celtic Knot
Clancy's Pizza Pub
Corcorans
Emerald Loop
Fifth Province
Fiddler's Hearth
The Galway Arms
James Joyce Irish Pub
Lizzie McNeill's
Mickey Finn's Brewery
Peggy Kinnanes
R
ed Apple Buffet
Six Penny Bit
Vaughan's Pub

REALTORS
Dreamtown - Patrick Carney
Koenig & Strey
Mary Ellen Considine  773-769-2500
RESTAURANT/HOSPITALITY RECRUITER
Cathy Cooney-Millar 224-944-9654
SPORTS CLUBS

Chgo Celtic Soccer Club
stbrigids.chicago.gaa.ie
ST PATRICK'S DAY
St Patrick's Day Parade
SWEATERS

Anne's Irish Knits
TABLE RUNNERS
All 32 Counties
TELEVISION-CABLE

Irish Journal 708-366-4665
THEATRE
Late Nite Catechism
TOURIST ATTRACTION
Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home
TRAVEL /TOURS
Authentic Irish Tours
BestIrishTours.com
Gadabout Travel
Shay Clarke - Inter Trav Corp
TUCKPOINTING
Shamrock Tuckpointing
VACATION RENTALS
Dingle Cottage
Cork - Cottage from $450 weekly
Don at 608-274-1180
WASTE REMOVAL
Flood Brothers Disposal
WEDDING PLANNER
That Special Event

WEDDING VENUES
Gaelic Park
Irish Am Heritage Ctr
Palos Country Club
WOOD FLOOR SPECIALIST
The Sexton Group

Irish Ann