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Published January 6th 2013
Notable landmarks, a city walk, and Dublin's recent past
Only an hour flight away from London, Dublin offers many attractions for an entertaining and relaxing weekend away. O'Connell Street is the main thoroughfare of Dublin and site of the city's most prominent monuments. Located just north of the River Liffey, the area is packed on all sides with historical significance and takes less than an hour to tour on foot.
River Liffey near O'Connell Street. Photo by Erin Connelly.
The architecture of the street has a very 1920s feel about it, which is appropriate as the most well-known events of the street occurred during that period. The street has witnessed violence, uprisings, protests, changes in name and allegiances, as well as celebrations, parades, commemorations, and heavy tourist footfall. Today, the street is a busy crossing and the site of a large St Patrick's Day parade, but only a few decades ago it was bitterly contested ground.
Perhaps the most eye-catching structure on the street is The Spire, or the "Pointless Point" as Dubliners have nicknamed it. The Spire was built in 2003 to replace Nelson's Pillar (a tribute to Admiral Lord Nelson), which was blown up during the unrest of the 1960s. Next to The Spire is a tribute to Jim Larkin (or "Big Jim"), who was a significant force in the union movement and advocate for worker's rights. The inscription of the statue reads: "The great appear great because we are on our knees: Let us rise."
The Spire and Jim Larkin stand in front of the General Post Office, which featured prominently in the Easter Uprising of 1916 that ultimately resulted in a complete change in Ireland's political landscape.
During the Easter Rising, the General Post Office was the headquarters for the leaders of the rebellion. The Proclamation of the Irish Republic is still on display in a museum inside the post office. The building was extensively damaged during the fighting and bullet holes are still visible in the columns at the entrance. Down from the post office at the entrance of the street is a memorial to Daniel O'Connell himself, who was a 19th century Nationalist leader and inspiration for the street name. The O'Connell monument also is marked with bullet holes, a reminder of recent insurrections.