Blowing up statues

April 25, 1997

PAULA MURPHY, in her opening paragraph on the demolition of statues in Dublin (THES, April 11) invests the whole proceedings with a national fervour which is somewhat at variance with the various demolition attempts.

For example, Robert Kee, in lreland, A History, describes how an IRA man, with the help of a comrade, had climbed onto the base of the statue of William III on College Green to place a demolition charge. In the darkness he was unable to find anything more substantial to which to tie the explosive than the raised forefoot of the horse.

The delayed action fuse allowed the demolition team to get well away before the explosion. This failed to tumble the statue, as was the intention, but in the words of one of the surviving perpetrators they succeeded in "shaking it badly".

In the case of the statue of Lord Gough it was at the sixth attempt that it was finally destroyed. Brendan Behan summarised the whole moronic practice of blowing up statues in a ballad of which unfortunately the following is all I have. Maybe one of your readers can supply the missing verses: Neath the horse's prick, a dynamite stick Some Gallant hero did place For the cause of our land, with a light in his hand Bravely the foe he did face.

Then without showing fear, he kept himself clear Expecting to blow up the pair But he nearly went crackers, all he got was the knackers And made the poor stallion a mare.

Eventually the deed is done and the ballad concludes: This is the way our heroes today Are challenging England's might.

With a stab in the back and a midnight attack On a horse that can't even ****e.

Mike Lewis Elvendon Road Goring on Thames Reading, Berks

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