A six-metre-tall soldier made of scrap metal – including horseshoes, spanners and jacks – was unveiled on St Stephen’s Green in Dublin to mark 100 years since the end of World War One.
The Haunting Soldier, at the entrance to St Stephen’s Green where it will be until 26 November, was unveiled ahead of this Sunday’s centenary of the end of the Great War.
It will then be returned to Dorset. It was created by Slovakian artist Martin Galbavy and constructed by Chris Hannam at Dorset Forge and Fabrication.
The statue, commissioned by Jo Oliver, was made in Dorset to evoke the fragility and suffering of those who survived the war and who returned home to an uncertain and difficult future.
It was brought to Dublin by solicitor Sabina Purcell. Some 36,000 Irishmen were among the many millions who perished in the First World War.
Ms Purcell discovered she had a family connection to those who served in the war. It led her to explore how she could remember and commemorate the soldiers from the island of Ireland who fought in the war, both those who died and those who survived.
When she came across photographs of the sculpture, she decided to bring it to Dublin.
“I just wanted to bring the soldier over to remember the lives lost and those who did return home.
“The soldier represents all the vulnerabilities of those who served in World War One from all the island of Ireland.”
Ireland’s Culture Minister Josepha Madigan, who unveiled the statue, said: “I congratulate Sabina Purcell for her vision and commitment in bringing this beautiful and thought-provoking sculpture to Dublin. It is a great achievement.”
She said the centenary commemorations were shining a light, in some instances for the first time, on the stories of the many men and women from across the island of Ireland who sacrificed their lives in WWI.
“We have explored, with respect and compassion, the differing motivations of those who fought – many driven by complex ideals and aspirations and others driven by economic necessity,” she said.
Jo Oliver, who originally commissioned the statue, said of it: “He is us. He is the common man, not linked to any race or politics and certainly not to the love of war?”
The archway at St Stephen’s Green commemorates the British Army’s Royal Dublin Fusiliers and it was where Irish revolutionary hero Countess Constance Markiewicz fought the British in the 1916 Easter Rising.
Among those present for the ceremonial was junior minister Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran and the secretary of the Northern Ireland First World War Centenary Committee Kingsley Donaldson.
Mr Donaldson said the sculpture is a “gentle way of reminding people” who haven’t been able to engage with the centenary and other contentious centenaries of this time.
“Here in St Stephen’s Green because of its history, it’s appropriate in that it allows us to think about what that war meant for individuals and their loved ones,” he added.