Spire of Dublin

The Spire of Dublin, alternatively titled the Monument of Light (Irish: An Túr Solais), is a large, stainless steel, pin-like monument 120 metres (390 ft) in height, located on the site of the former Nelson's Pillar (and prior to that a statue of William Blakeney) on O'Connell Street, the main thoroughfare of Dublin, Ireland.

 Nelson's Pillar stood on the site of the Spire until it was destroyed by a bomb in 1966.

Following the bombing of Nelson's Pillar by former IRA members in 1966, and subsequent controlled demolition six days later of what was left,[1] the site remained vacant for years as no decision could be reached on a suitable replacement.[2] Eventually, the Anna Livia monument was installed on the site to celebrate the 1988 Dublin Millennium celebrations.

 The Spire looking towards the Liffey

In 1998, as part of a planned multi-million euro re-development of O'Connell Street (as well as a memorial to the upcoming millennium and the aspirations of Ireland in the midst of its Celtic Tiger economic boom), a competition was launched to find a replacement for Nelson's Pillar.[2] O'Connell Street had been in decline for a number of years due to the proliferation of fast-food restaurants, the opening of bargain shops using cheap plastic shop fronts, and proliferation of derelict sites along both sides of the road. The re-development plan, which was aimed for completion by 2004, hoped to move the street "away from the image of fast-food restaurants, to (that of) a 'family' place to go".[2] As part of the project to improve the overall streetscape, a new granite plaza was promised[3] and the number of trees in the central reservation, which had over-grown and obscured views and monuments, was reduced dramatically. This was controversial, as the trees had been growing for a century.[4] Statues were cleaned and in some cases relocated. Shop owners were required to replace plastic signage and frontage with more attractive designs. Traffic was re-directed where possible away from the street and the number of traffic lanes was reduced to make it more appealing to pedestrians. The centrepiece of this regeneration was to be the replacement monument for Nelson's Pillar.

The Spire, or Spire of Light, was chosen from a large number of submissions in an international competition by a committee chaired by the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Joe Doyle. Following an appeal by an objector,[3] the plans were taken to the High Court, meaning that the monument was not ready for the Millennium celebrations in the year 2000.[2] On 28 December 2000, after an Environmental Impact Study (EIS) had been carried out, Environment Minister Noel Dempsey announced that construction of the Monument of Light, or The Spike, had been approved and that construction of the monument would take nineteen months to complete.[3] The announcement constituted a defeat for An Taisce, Ireland's non-governmental organisation active in the areas of the environment and built heritage, which had called for the spire's height to be reduced.[3] Dempsey noted that Dublin Corporation had previously failed to complete an EIS in its haste to complete the monument quickly.[3]

The spire was designed by Ian Ritchie of Ian Ritchie Architects,[5] who sought an "Elegant and dynamic simplicity bridging art and technology". The contract was awarded to SIAC-Radley JV and it was manufactured by Radley Engineering of Dungarvan, County Waterford, and erected by SIAC Construction Ltd & GDW Engineering Ltd. The Anna Livia monument was eventually moved away to make room for the Spire in 2001.

In December 2015, to coincide with the Irish premier of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, a large temporary Lightsaber hilt was constated at the base of the Spire to light the Spire blue at night.[6]

^ "Nelson Pillar Demolished - 1966". RTÉ Archives. RTÉ. 14 March 1966. Retrieved 6 October 2022. ^ a b c d "New Monument For O'Connell Street - 2002". RTÉ Archives. RTÉ. 8 April 2002. Retrieved 6 October 2022. ^ a b c d e "Plans For The Spire - 2000". RTÉ Archives. RTÉ. 28 December 2000. Retrieved 6 October 2022. ^ "Temporary reprieve for O'Connell Street trees". The Irish Emigrant. 17 November 2002. ^ "Spike costs a million to keep clean". Evening Herald. 22 December 2008. ^ McLysaght, Emer. "Dublin's Spire has been turned into a giant lightsaber for Star Wars". The Daily Edge. Retrieved 8 February 2024.
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