by David Quinn
Thursday, 6
August 2020
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The strange case of the disappearing statues

A Dublin hotel's pre-emptive removal of its iconic figures has backfired
by David Quinn

In its present incarnation, Dublin’s iconic Shelbourne hotel has stood since 1867. It rates a mention in James Joyce’s Ulysses. More recently, however, it found itself the victim of cancel culture — thanks to a supposed connection with slavery. But rather than wait for an angry mob to turn up, the hotel pre-empted matters and acted as its own judge, jury and executioner.

The hotel has voluntarily donned the sackcloth and ashes because of four statues that stood on plinths at the front of the building. The bronze figures showed robed women holding torches above their heads.

However, based on a mistaken internet article, the American-based Marriot Hotel group, which now owns the Shelbourne, decided that at least two of the statues depicted Nubian slaves in Ancient Egypt and so had them removed.

Dubliners regarded the 153-year-old statues simply as lovely ornaments that were part of the city’s heritage. They were not happy to wake up to four empty plinths. It never occurred to them that any of the four statues were of slaves.

Then it turned out that none of the statues depicted slavery at all. Kyle Leyden, an Irish art historian based at the University of London, emerged to fill us in on their history.

He found the original art catalogue the statues were chosen from. The statues were cast at Val d’Orsne foundry in Paris and are described in the catalogue as Egyptian and African women. The alleged manacles around their ankles are in all likelihood simply gold ankle bracelets.

At the time of writing, Dublin City Council is investigating whether the removal of the statues breached planning law. There is a fair chance they will be restored to their rightful place.

Nonetheless, there are still demands that they be kept hidden from view. Dr Ebun Joseph, who co-founded the first Black Studies module at University College Dublin, insists they are slaves. She tweeted that accepting Kyle Leyden’s word that they are not, over the judgement of people like her, is “white privilege” at work.

The whole incident is now playing out as a farce. But it is indicative of the fraught atmosphere we live in that an American-owned hotel in Dublin would take it into its head that the statues which adorned the front of the building must be slaves and rather than wait for trouble to come to it, decided to bring trouble on itself.

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Mark Corby
Mark Corby
1 year ago

Hasn’t t Ireland got more important things such as Brexit to think about?

Secondly that women Dr Ebun Joseph, should be catapulted to Cambridge as soon as possible. Her co- shrieker, Gopal, will no doubt welcome her with open arms.

Adrian
Adrian
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Not bloody likely. Gopal would be demoted to number 2 spot.

Ian Ogden
Ian Ogden
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Let the (fighting) begin and as for the statues,they are why I visit Ireland along with its history,culture and people. Maybe Ireland is trying to say I am unwelcome.

John Nutkins
John Nutkins
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Indeed. No doubt that cesspit aka Cambridge Uni would make the ignoramus Joseph vice-chancellor, joining that other racist creature Gopal, recently promoted to a professorship! How low that once great establishment has sunk into the cesspool of ignorance, the stench from which is overpowering and vomit-inducing.

dozmorris51
dozmorris51
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

No,no. Her co-shrieker should be catapulted to Dublin.

Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
1 year ago

It’s becoming increasingly clear that a lot of people really hate the success of the West and everything that it stands for. Those who have benefitted the most from it seem to also hate it the most too. Unfortunately, in order to accommodate these people’s right-wing hatred we are more than happy to erase our culture, distort our history and dumb down our education system.

‘White privilege’ is an accusation made by those who gained the most from it against those who benefitted the least from it.

John Nutkins
John Nutkins
1 year ago
Reply to  Brian Dorsley

‘White privilege’ the inane response from yet another arrogant and ignorant so-called university lecturer who introduced ‘Black Studies’.
Can someone there introduce ‘White Studies’ in the name of equality.
BLM and the racist absurdities uttered by the likes of this lecturer and the disgusting and insulting Gopal at Cambridge Uni (‘white is trash’) have done a splendid job in antagonising me towards blacks – so counter-productive.

Michael Yeadon
Michael Yeadon
1 year ago
Reply to  John Nutkins

I find she’s done a great job in antagonising me towards Prof Gopal.

Ray Zacek
Ray Zacek
1 year ago

Marriot Hotel group joins the serried ranks of the corporate Woke.

Martin Adams
Martin Adams
1 year ago

What a dismal tale!

I spent most of my life living and working in Dublin. That was at Trinity College Dublin which, at least until my retirement from lecturing in 2015, had been largely free of the idiocy propounded by Dr Ebun Jospeh (an overseer of Ireland’s first university module in Black Studies) and her ilk. It reminds me of the controversies around the use of the word “niggardly” which, extraordinary to contemplate, are still running, long after the ancient Norse etymology of that rather delicious word was settled. Resentment studies know no limits in their search for objects of complaint and for causes to boost self-righteousness.

I think back a few weeks, to the article by Angela Nagle, Will Ireland Survive the Woke Wave? This issue might well be a test answer to that question.

Joe Blow
Joe Blow
1 year ago

What exactly does Ebun Joseph mean when she tweets that accepting Kyle Leyden’s word over the judgement of ‘people like her’ is “white privilege”? To adopt the tiresome vernacular of the critical theorists, let’s deconstruct that a little…

Does she mean that we should not accept Leyden’s view because he is white? That she has some special insight into a statue’s history and “meaning” because she is black?

Or that he is wrong because Black Studies trumps Art History?

Or because she actually has knowledge that is possible to present – an actual historical record, perhaps – that proves her point?

If the former, she should be dismissed from the college immediately. We have seen where that kind of reasoning goes – we had dismissal of “Jewish science,” and then we had condemnation of bourgeois science by Lysenko et al.

So perhaps she should be challenged by her supervisor to come up with evidence.

jcurwin
jcurwin
1 year ago

I know where I’m not staying when I go to Dublin.

Adrian Maxwell
Adrian Maxwell
1 year ago

I believe the Marriott global chain is owned by Mormon interests (Utah) so it is not surprising the initial removal action was taken. Im sure the Dublin authorities will, as the Irish often do, find a common sense way to satisfy Dubliners and restore the statutes. Once the actual history becomes widely known. The story only serves to highlight the hole being furiously dug by university governance in the western world.

Peter KE
Peter KE
1 year ago

BLM and all other woke activists are nothing but violent anarchist thugs and we need to insist that our governments and corporate leaders stand up to their rubbish protestations and reject them as inept.

Peter Francis
Peter Francis
1 year ago

Thanks, David Quinn, for this report. It is a depressing example of our direction of travel. The art historian’s expert view on art history counts for nothing against the views of a social studies teacher simply because the social studies teacher is the correct colour. Presumably there is no point in listening to any expert on anything if they are the wrong colour.

Eugene Norman
Eugene Norman
1 year ago

All of this is American derived. The hotel, the philosophy, the course founded by Ebun.