After a night’s rest in Belfast, it was time to head down south again, but the first stop was in County Down on the Down side of the River Lagan. Lily and family paused to admire the relatively new Parliament Buildings on the Stormont Estate. Sir Arnold Thornley was commissioned to design the home of Northern Irish democracy as early as 1920; the architect chose to create a building in classical Greek style. Work did not commence on Thornley’s design until 1922, and after many re-designs including extra storeys, the building was not officially opened until late in 1932. The English Prince of Wales did the honours; a man who was to serve as King Edward VIII of the UK for less than 12 months during 1936.
In my opinion, the next and last photo encapsulates the whole character and innocence of the Parker family’s visit to Ireland in the summer of 1961.
At first glance, it appears to be a typical Irish tourist’s photo of O’Connell Street in Dublin. Then the car models and tobacco advertising signs provide evidence of a bygone era. Is that a nifty Ford Anglia I see at the back of the queue for the traffic lights? But most of all, there is a symbol of British imperialism in the distance which would not remain intact in 5 years time. Yes – Lily captured one of the few colour photos showing Nelson’s Pillar just beyond the Dublin GPO. In March 1966, Republican activist’s decided to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising by blowing the despised figure of Admiral Horatio Nelson from his plinth. This statue had been completed in 1809, a full 34 years before London could boast about their famous Nelson’s Column.
Irish Republicans still proudly declare that their bombing expertise in 1966 caused no serious injuries or collateral damage to property in the busy Dublin city centre. Yet, when the finest British Army ordnance experts concocted a plan to demolish the remains of Nelson’s Pillar later that year, the resultant “controlled” explosion damaged shop fronts and buildings up and down Dublin’s main thoroughfare.
Nelson’s head was later stolen by Irish students (from its Dublin custodians) and secretly displayed as a trophy of war at many a Republican fund-raising concert throughout the following years.
Time to catch the ferry back home.
Those Irish know how to have a good laugh