Nelson’s Pillar was erected in O’Connell St, Dublin in 1809 to honour the exploits of the British naval hero and notorious adulterer Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson who was killed at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. The 134ft high monument became an integral part of the city, central to the country’s historic and literary epics, as well as being the meeting place for friends and lovers; it also offered a great view over the city, and its 168 steps could be climbed for a fee of sixpence. The Pillar survived rebellions, wars and the even the 1916 Rising but in 1966, 157 years after its completion, Nelson’s time keeping his one good eye on Dublin came to an explosive end.
The Pillar was seen by many as an anachronistic monument to English occupation of Ireland, especially as 1966 was the 50th anniversary of the 1916 Rising; blown up by a republican bomb in the early hours of the morning.
The bombing of Nelson’s Pillar became a humorous cause célèbre in popular culture.
Photo: Colour photo showing the pillar on the morning of 8 March 1966