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The Spire of Dublin - O'Connell Street, Dublin, Ireland
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Master Mariner
N 53° 20.986 W 006° 15.614
29U E 682357 N 5914679
Quick Description: The spire was erected in 2003 for the Millennium! Well the plan was to have it ready for the Millennium but legal arguments delayed it. The Spire can be seen from almost all over Dublin. It is reported to be the tallest sculpture in the world.
Location: Dublin, Ireland
Date Posted: 4/12/2016 1:03:18 AM
Waymark Code: WMQXVE
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member bluesnote
Views: 11

Long Description:

The Spire is worth a visit during both daytime and night time. During the day the sun can be seen reflecting of the polished stainless steel and, at night, the spire is illuminated.

The CBS News website advises that the Spire of Dublin is the tallest sculpture in the world:

At 397.6 feet tall, the Spire of Dublin (officially called the "Monument of Light") located in Dublin, Ireland, holds the title for the tallest sculpture in the world.

The Tourist Information Dublin website tells us:

The Spire of Dublin, officially titled An Túr Solais (Monument of Light) is a large, stainless steel, pin-like monument over 121 metres in height and 3 metres in diameter at its base, located on the site of the former Nelson's Pillar (destroyed by a bomb in 1966) on O'Connell Street in Dublin.

The Spire of Dublin was designed by Ian Ritchie Architects, a London-based firm.

The base of The Spire is gently lit and the top 12 metres are illuminated to the tip providing a beacon in the night sky over the capital.

The first section of the monument was put into position on December 18th 2002. High winds hampered progress and so it took until January 21st 2003 for the erection to be completed.

This tall needle-like structure quickly acquired a number of nicknames including The Spike, The Binge Syringe, The Stiletto in the Ghetto, The Nail in the Pale and The Pin in the Bin.

The h2g2 website adds:

The Spire of Dublin

The latest piece of amazing architecture to be unveiled in Ireland is the Spire of Dublin, known locally as the Millennium Spire. This is a giant spike made of burnished steel which sits in the centre of Dublin's main street, O'Connell Street.

The Spire is enormous, standing at 120 metres high (about 400 feet). That's not all that high compared with such notables as the Empire State Building (443m) or the Eiffel Tower (320m), but the impact of the Spire is great because it is only about 3 metres (10 feet) wide at the base and it narrows to a point at the top. It looks like a giant sewing needle, as it soars into the sky above Dublin. The top section is drilled with hundreds of tiny holes, like a cheese grater, and is lit from below by lights inside the Spire, so that it glows. This serves not only as a focus for the upward-pointing feel of the construction, but also as a warning light for low-flying aircraft. The light mechanism can be lowered by a series of ropes and pulleys to allow the bulb to be changed, so nobody has to climb up inside the very narrow Spire.

The Centre of Dublin

The Spire is located at the junction of Henry Street, Earl Street and O'Connell Street. This site was always considered the centre of Dublin and was occupied until 1966 by Nelson Pillar, a giant column of stone with a statue of Admiral Nelson on top. In 1966, the IRA blew the pillar up, as they considered it a sign of British Imperialism. The Spire now stands on the same spot.


The Spire was constructed in six sections, each about 20m high. The first two sections were put in place in late 2002 but construction had to halt over Christmas due to very high winds. The remaining sections were added in late January 2003, the final one being added on 21 January. Construction involved the use of the tallest mobile crane ever seen in these islands, capable of extending to 140m and dropping the sections of the Spire into place.

Why Millennium?

Although the official name for the construction is the Spire of Dublin, it is popularly known as the 'Millennium Spire'. It was originally conceived as a project to celebrate the Millennium (the beginning or end of the year 2000, depending on your inclination). Unfortunately, opponents of the Spire brought a legal action to prevent it being built. By the time this was sorted out, it was far too late, so the Spire is only being completed now.

Criticisms (and Rebuttals) of the Spire

  • It cost a lot of money which could have been spent on more worthwhile projects such as hospitals.
  • There are always more deserving causes than any piece of art. But if all the money was diverted to hospitals, there still wouldn't be enough, and we'd live in a grey functional world without any beauty. The Spire is beautiful and will make Dublin a better and more interesting city.
  • It is out of character with the rest of the street, being tall and narrow while the rest of the street is low and wide.
  • If the Spire were wide, it would certainly overpower the street. But it is so slender that it fits in very well, although it is so amazingly tall.
  • It doesn't mean anything. There are no inscriptions, statues or other things. It's just a bloody big spike pointing at the sky.
  • So what? Perhaps, people will be encouraged to lift their gaze out of the gutter and to look at the stars.

The Ian Ritchie Architects website also tells us:

Ian Ritchie Architects won the international competition for a monument in the centre of Dublin. The design is the flagship project of a wider improvement of the centre of Ireland’s capital city. Obviously creating a national monument has involved many interested parties. Dublin Corporation granted permission in 1999. The project was subsequently challenged in the High Court by two other competitors. The judge requested a full Environmental Impact Assessment (replacing a monument with a monument) from Dublin Corporation. This independent report was submitted to the Irish Minister of the Environment in June 2000.

120 metres high and 3 metres in diameter at the base, the tapering monument rises above O’Connell Street, breaking above the roof line with as slender and elegant a movement as is technically possible. Its structure and surfaces respond to the character and climate of the Irish landscape: the Spire sways gently in direct response to the wind and during daytime the monument softly reflects the light of Ireland’s sky. From dusk, the base is gently lit and the tip illuminated to provide a beacon in the night sky over Dublin. It has its roots in the ground and its light in the sky.

The bronze base is flush with the surrounding paving, allowing individuals and groups to stand on the base and touch the spire surface. The base incorporates a spiral alluding to the continuity of Ireland’s history and an expanding future. The historical role of bronze in the development of Irish art is continued into the future as the base acquires both the patina from the Irish climate and the golden polish of human contact.

The Spire was completed in 2003 in celebration of Ireland’s confident future in the third millennium. British Construction Industry International Award finalist 2003 RIBA Award & Stirling Prize shortlist 2004 European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture 2005 Mies van der Rohe Award Shortlist 2005.

Website: [Web Link]

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