Spire of Dublin

From Academic Kids

The Spire of Dublin (main nickname: The Spike) is a large, pin-like monument, 120 metres (393 ft) in height and lit from the top, whose erection was completed on January 21 2003 on the site of the former Nelson Pillar on O'Connell Street in the Irish capital, Dublin. The spire has a diameter of 3m (10 ft) at the base, narrowing to 15cm (6 in) at the top. This makes it look like a giant sewing needle. It is the world's tallest sculpture. It was originally intended that the Spire be completed by 2000 in honour of the new millennium, but construction was delayed.

The view from Henry Street at dusk. Though perfectly upright its size in relation to neighbouring buildings gives the illusion that it is leaning to one side.
The view from Henry Street at dusk. Though perfectly upright its size in relation to neighbouring buildings gives the illusion that it is leaning to one side.

The monument itself was commissioned as part of a redesigned street layout in 1999. O'Connell Street (The widest and most famous street in Ireland; formerly Sackville Street) was perceived to have gone into decline from the 1970s. Some people blamed the appearance of fast food restaurants and the opening of bargain basement shops, all using cheap plastic visually unattractive and obtrusive shop fronts, the existence of a number of derelict sites, and the unilateral decision of the IRA to blow up Nelson Pillar, as reasons for the decline in a once famous and attractive street.

In the 1990s, plans were launched to improve the streetscape. The excessive number of trees in the central reservation, which had overgrown and obscured the street's views and monuments, was reduced dramatically. Statues were cleaned and in some cases relocated. Shop-owners were required to replace plastic signage and frontage with more visually attractive designs. Private car traffic was re-directed where possible away from the street, with its number of traffic lanes reduced, to allow more 'public ownership' of the street for pedestrians. The centrepiece of this regeneration was to be a replacement monument for Nelson Pillar, the Spire of Dublin, chosen by a committee under the then chairmanship of the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Alderman Joe Doyle from a large number of submissions.

The choice of the monument proved controversial. Its cost at 4,000,000 euro (or well over IR£3,000,000 in contemporary currency before the appearance of the euro) was criticised, as was its design. Various nicknames were attached to it even prior to its erection (most famously, the "Stiletto in the Ghetto" and the "Erection at the Intersection"). One critic sought judicial review of the choice. However on its erection in January 2003, much of the criticism subsided. Two remained: its cost and the fact that it could not be used as a viewing platform, unlike its predecessor, Nelson Pillar, which provided spectacular views of Dublin.

Nelson Pillar was the previous occupant of the site of the Spire until it was destroyed by a bomb in 1966.
Nelson Pillar was the previous occupant of the site of the Spire until it was destroyed by a bomb in 1966.

Further changes in the street, including the creation of a new plaza in front of the General Post Office (GPO) new tree plantings, and the erection of buildings on the street's two derelict sites, are planned for 2005. The middle of the street in the past year has been majorly done up, with new trees and ground. The object is to make the street more pedestrian-friendly and less congested.

Although the spire was met with initial opposition, many Dubliners seemed to come round to the idea of 'The Spire Of Dublin' during the monument's completion. The completion of the spire was cheered on by a small crowd of Dubliners who braved the cold to watch its erection and the RTÉ radio presenter Lillian Smith celebrated by broadcasting Neil Young's song, The Needle and the Damage Done. Some people around the world also watched live on webcam, a world first.

Opinions still remain divided as to the nature of the monument itself. Most seem to have come around to accepting the monument, with varying degrees of enthusiasm. While some have praised it as potentially Ireland's Eiffel Tower, others continue to dismiss it as out of scale and character with the city, or slated it as being like a mobile phone mast in the centre of O'Connell St. Whether they like it or not, all sides agree that it is likely to dominate Dublin's skies for decades if not centuries to come, in the same manner as Nelson Pillar. History will see whether it will remain as controversial.

Other nicknames

Missing image
A view from an inner city apartment building showing the height of the Spire in relation to other buildings.
  • The Spire in the Mire A reflection on O' Connell Street's unsavoury reputation
  • The Stiffy near the Liffey
  • The Stiletto in the Ghetto (O'Connell St is a very short distance from some of Dublin's poorest and most drug-ruined communities).
  • The Bertie Pole (pun on the Bertie Bowl, a nickname for a controversial new national stadium, since abandoned, proposed for Dublin by Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern)
  • The Metro-Pole (pun based on a famous meeting place, the Metropole Ballroom, that used to be located nearby)
  • The eyeful tower
  • Milligan (in honour of the recently deceased member of the British comedy team, the Goons), whose father was Irish and who took Irish citizenship himself when annoyed one day by British bureaucracy when applying for a British passport (having served in the British army and been wounded).
  • The Height of Folly
  • The Gleaming Tower of Pizza-land (a reference to the number of fast food restaurants on O'Connell Street)
  • Bertie's Erection (again after Taoiseach Bertie Ahern)
  • The Nail in the Pale
  • The Pin in the Bin (a reference to the perceived amount of litter in O'Connell Street)
  • The Pointless Point

See also

List of towers


he:החוד של דבלין


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