Monday, 9 January 2012

Admiral Nelson

On this day in 1806, Admiral Nelson was given a State Funeral and buried in St Paul's Cathedral, London.

In Trafalgar Square, a statue of Nelson stands on top of a large column. A similar column had been constructed earlier in Dublin and referred to as Nelson's Pillar.

In 1916 the statue in Dublin was used as a target by some rebels in the Easter Rising. The pillar in Dublin was unceremoniously destroyed in 1966 by Irish nationalists with a "tidy up" completed by the Irish Army. An Lar became familiar on the Dublin buses as a hasty replacement sign.  The head of the statue can now be seen in the Dublin City Archive in Pearse Street.

While there was much controversy caused by having a statue of an English hero adorning the main street in Dublin, one part of Nelson's history remains neglected. Namely that it was this English hero who stood as a character witness for the Irish rebel, Colonel Marcus Despard who was hung and beheaded in 1803.

In a twist of irony, one of Despard's relatives was involved in the defence of Trinity College in 1916 as a member of the Officer Training Corps. Ernest Despard was killed in 1917 while serving with the Tank Corps.

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