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The Spire of Dublin (Dublin)

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100 metre stainless steel spike erected just outside the GPO on O'Connell Street, Dublin's main thoroughfare.

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      22.03.2003 01:05
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      ~ ~ Paris has the Eiffel Tower, Rome has the Coliseum, Pisa has its Leaning Tower, and London has Big Ben. Now Dublin has joined the list of European cities with a landmark attraction, in the form of the new "Dublin Spire", the last section of which was hoisted into place on the 21st January, 2003 by the largest crane ever to be used in the Irish Republic. (Operated by a Scotsman, heh, heh!) ~ ~ The Dublin Spire is a 120 metre high tower made entirely of stainless steel, milled to a highly polished finish. It replaces Nelson's Pillar, a statue of the old British Admiral, who stood for generations in all his glory in front of the General Post Office on Dublin's main thoroughfare, O'Connell Street. The IRA thought that a statue of a renowned hero of the old British Empire was somewhat out of place in front of the G.P.O., where the founding fathers of the Irish Republic made their last heroic stand against the yoke of British Imperialism during the Rising of 1916. So in 1966 the old admiral quite literally bit the dust, when the IRA blasted him from the top of his Pillar with a strategically placed charge of plastic explosive. Ironically, very little peripheral damage resulted as a result of this explosion, which is more than could be said for the so called "controlled" explosion carried out by the Irish Army a few months later to demolish the remnants of the old Pillar. They somehow managed to blow in nearly every window in O'Connell Street, as they used way too many explosives than was needed for the job! ~ ~ Anyway, enough said about old Nelson! Back to the new Dublin Spire that now towers over the ancient Irish capital. Back in the mid-1990's, the Irish Government finally decided to erect a new monument to replace the old Pillar, in line with an ambitious (and on-going) plan to revitalise O'Connell Street, which over the past couple of decades had lost its place as the premier shopp
      ing street in Dublin. The influx of new wealth into the Irish economy with the unprecedented economic expansion during the 1990's had seen the old street literally over run with a plethora of fast food outlets (such as MacDonalds) and a multitude of cheap and tacky "Pound Shops". (bargain stores) A design competition was organised, and submissions invited from all-comers to find something that would add to the new image they planned for the street, and after much deliberation the Dublin Spire was announced as the winner. At 120 meters in height it dwarfs the neighbouring GPO building at more than seven times its height. But despite its height, the Spire is only a mere three meters in diameter at its widest point, (the base) tapering gradually to only six inches in diameter at the very top. (The easiest way to describe it is to ask you to imagine a gigantic, inverted six-inch nail.) The cone itself is actually hollow, and the thickness of the steel plate used in its construction also narrows as the height increases, from 35-mm at the base to 10-mm at the apex. It's planned to have the structure permanently illuminated, with internal spotlights filtering light out through 11,884 tiny 15-mm perforations. (This stage of the work isn't completed yet) ~ ~ The work that went into the manufacture of Dublin's latest edifice was a truly international effort. No fewer than five different countries made a contribution. The majority of the 126 tonnes of stainless steel used in its construction were milled and polished in France, then shipped over to Scotland where the tapered half-cylinders were rolled into shape. These sections were then trimmed and welded together by an Irish firm called Radley Engineering from Dungarvon in County Waterford. The flanges used to fit the separate sections together came from Germany, and the two-tonne "damper" that is required to stop the Spire swaying around too much in the wind was ma
      de in Canada. A British company, Ian Ritchie Architects carried out the actual design work, and its erection was also entrusted to a British company, GDW Engineering. ~ ~ Thousands of cheering, enthralled spectators gathered on the morning of 21st January, as the skilled crane operator lifted the last few sections into place. The final stage of the project had actually been scheduled for the previous weekend, but high winds had made it too dangerous to proceed. Two workmen scaled the internal ladder of the Spire to manually guide the last sections into place, and the crowd gasped in anticipation, as their heads appeared hundreds of feet above the ground. And then, finally, Dublin's latest tourist attraction was complete. (The initial plan had been to have it ready to celebrate the new Millennium in 2000) ~ ~ Interestingly, public opinion is divided as to whether or not the new Dublin Spire is a good thing for the city, or a horrendous waste of public money, the younger generation being hugely in favour, while the older Dubliners seem slightly more uncertain as to its value. But already the renowned Dublin sense of humour and wit is to the fore, as the people strive to think up an appropriate nickname for the new monument. In the past they have come up with some highly amusing names for other Dublin attractions. Hence the "Anna Livia" fountain, a naked nymph in a fountain also located on O'Connell Street, became the "floosy in the jaccuzzi". And the now infamous (and defunct) digital clock that Dublin Corporation placed under the water in the River Liffey at O'Connell Bridge, became known as the "time in the slime". (Defunct because the River Liffey mud got into the workings of the half a million pound clock after only a few months, heh, heh) Some suggestions have been "Bertie's Pole", in honour (??) of our current Taoiseach. (Prime Minister) Another has been "Milliga
      n", in honour of the late comedian Spike Milligan who died fairly recently, and who was much loved here in Ireland. But whatever nickname finally sticks, the new Dublin Spire is here to stay, and now dominates the skyline in the city centre. I was going to say don't miss it if you ever visit Dublin, but the comment seems slightly superfluous, as it would be practically impossible NOT to see it from practically anywhere in the city. I promise you folks; you haven't seen anything quite like this before! ~~~~~~~~~~~~ Copyright KenJ ~~~~~~~~~~~~ PS. Since I originally wrote this opinion (I've been waiting ages for dooyoo to addit!) the Spire has been officially named by Dublin Corporation. And the name is...wait for it...THE SPIRE (how original!) ~~~~~~~~~~~~ Footnote. My special thanks to the "Irish Times" newspaper, from which I obtained the technical specifications that I used in this review. ~~~~~~~~~~~~


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