The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

The Spire

Anthony McIntyre • 25.01.03

O’Connell Street in Dublin is packed at the best of times. There is no such thing as an uninterrupted walk through it. Sidestepping others walking towards us and being stopped in our tracks by the less fleet footed going in the same direction but merely inches ahead, is common place amongst the thronging crowds. And there is always the inevitable stampede of two hoofed beings blinded by their urgency to get across the road before a mass of mechanised machinery in a ‘no mood for turning’ charge comes hurtling at the first signal of green from the traffic lights. There is still a green light by the way - the peace process has not yet managed to impose something more neutral on us.

Bad as it normally is, matters have been even worse as of late due to building work being carried out on the construction of the Spire. Hoardings cover a large part of the street forcing the already congested pedestrians into even more cramped conditions making all the more intense the battle for foot room.

On seeing the Spire it is hard to conceive of something less attractive, more incomprehensible. Perhaps we are viewed by the architects as being so aesthetically challenged that our existential need for beauty can be sated by having us gaze on something big and shiny. Britain’s obscene Angel of The North at least has something in terms of artistry associated with it. But this silver nothingness jutting into our skies is both blank and bland: an above ground time capsule to be opened centuries from now - which will lead those who ’discover’ it to conclude that that we Irish had nothing, thought nothing and bequeathed nothing. After we have long since been nuked, poisoned or mutated into unintelligible deformities, and unable to protest otherwise future folklore may describe the Spire as being of ancient Greek origin, and considered wholly consistent with the culture of our time - a tribute to the God of Virility around which hoards of naked priests danced chanting ‘boys’. Perhaps the Dublin government fuelled on the bizarre political equivalent of viagra feels it has to proclaim its truncated territory’s virility by planting this erect silver member in the centre of its capital. A nation long screwed by its politicians being given the monument those same politicians felt it deserved.

There is an argument to be made that the only sense of real artistry to visit the spot where the Spire now stands in the last 195 years came courtesy of Liam Sutcliffe who blew up Nelson's Pillar there in 1966. Placed outside the GPO, at 120 metres in height, it dwarfs the building where the first claim to Irish nationhood of the twentieth century was staked with the blood of so many Irish citizens. Is this all that the inheritors and chief beneficiaries of their sacrifice have to offer? Not being a patron of the arts the thoughts that come to mind were simplistic. But it struck me that it is the type of architecture that sits comfortably with the peace process - shallow but large and central enough to monitor us like a panopticon. Placed outside the GPO it says to those who wanted the British to leave, ‘up yours - this is your reward for your efforts. Dublin 4 rules’. Now what if the money used to put the thing where it is had have been given to CORI to enhance its ability to fight poverty. But that would be to give the finger to the rich and the powerful - and knowing the calibre of our political leaders, they would rather give the finger to us. Like the useless Kim Jong-il they prefer to squander the country’s money on things amusing to themselves rather than what is necessary to to the eradication of destitution.

The Spire's architect, Mr Ian Ritchie, aware of the criticisms said, ‘I've heard all the arguments about the waste of money’. By way of a palliative he promises a Spire industry. We are supposed to console ourselves with the promise that ‘Dublin City Council is expected to raise millions of euro from the sale of miniature models of the Spire when the copyright for the structure transfers from the architect to the local authority.’ Perhaps more shall be sold in sex shops than anywhere else, a sign that we have indeed moved on from De Valera‘s Ireland of comely maidens.

Ultimately, it could be put to some educational value for young people if some graffiti artists were to write along it ‘use a condom’. It would hardly be out of place. Better that than the young beginning to think it is just a big heroin needle promoting the capital's drugs culture.




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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the dangers of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of 'crackpot' than the stigma of conformity. And on issues that seem important to you, stand up and be counted at any cost.
- Thomas J. Watson

Index: Current Articles

6 February 2003


Other Articles From This Issue:


If You Can't Beat Them, Join Them
Breandán Ó Muirthile


The Spire
Anthony McIntyre


Brian Mór


The Holidays and Joyce
Sean OTorain


Life Story of the Olives
Annie Higgins


The Letters page has been updated.


3 February 2003


A Carefully Crafted Message - Little Revealed, A Lot Concealed
John Meehan


What if They Give an Election and No One Comes?
Eamon Lynch


The Conscience of a King
Seaghán Ó Murchú


Lost Honour, Lost Cause
Proinsias O'Loinsaigh


Bogota Diary
Jimmy Sands


The Tongue
Anthony McIntyre


Glossary of Occupation

Paul de Rooij




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