Do you know the Dubliner names for the statues around town? During my recent trip to Dublin, our city tour guide mentioned the humorous nicknames people have given the city’s statues over the years, and he promised to regale us with their nicknaming tales later on in the tour, but he never did. Since I was my own family’s designated tour guide, the burden fell on me to find the nicknames of the statues we came across. So in case your tour guide didn’t tell you, here are some of Dublin’s most famous, raunchily nicknamed statues:
Update: Dublin’s statues now talk back! They know about their nicknames, and they’ve got something to say. When walking around Dublin, you can now hear some of the city’s most famous statues talk by scanning a code on your phone. Learn more at Talking Statues Dublin.
Nickname: The Prick With a Stick
The famous Irish novelist and poet is honored with this sassy statue on North Earl Street just off of O’Connell Street. Joyce was born in Rathgar, one of the suburbs of Dublin and is considered to be one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. If you’ve ever read Ulysses, you may well understand referring to him as the Prick With a Stick.
Nicknames: The Tart With a Cart, The Dolly With a Trolley
Molly Malone’s statue sits on the corner of Grafton Street and Suffolk Street. The statue was commissioned as a tribute to a famous Irish song called “Cockles and Mussles” and it was erected in 1988. The sculpture endowed Molly with an ample set of breasts, and this coupled with the speculation that the real Molly Malone was a prostitute earned the statue numerous nicknames along the lines of the Tart With a Cart.
The Spire of Light
Nicknames: The Stiffy at the Liffe, The Erection at the Intersection
In the middle of O’Connell Street sits the Spire of Light. The world’s tallest piece of public art, the spire stands 398 feet high, and it is located on the site of the former Nelson’s Pillar that was destroyed in 1966 by republican activists, which for years was referred to as The Stump. Not as elegant as the designers may have wanted, Dubliners just see this huge erection as, well, an erection.
Nickname: The Queer with the Leer
One of London’s most popular playwrights in the 1890s, Oscar Wilde is actually Dublin’s to claim. His gaily colored and fabulously posed statue sits in Merrion Square outside of his childhood home. The statue’s tongue-in-cheek name refers to Wilde’s imprisonment in London on accusations of homosexuality. Most Dubliners have a fondness for Wilde as well as the other statues around the city, and the statues’ raunchy nicknames stem from this fondness.
Nickname: The Hags with the Bags
On Lower Liffey Street just across the Ha’penny Bridge, two women take a break from their shopping to chat. The Meeting Place statue reflects everyday city life in one of Dublin’s most popular shopping areas. Dubliners have nicknamed this statue The Hags with the Bags, and one of the bronze bags was even stolen shortly after the statue’s installation! The bags are now securely fastened to the ground, and the two women can continue on with their conversation.
Does your city have funny nicknames for its landmarks? Let me know in the comments!