Museum rejected gift of Leinster House’s statue of Queen Victoria

Statue now stands outside Queen Victoria Building in Sydney

A museum in England declined the government’s offer to send it a large statue of Queen Victoria that once stood in the grounds of Leinster House.

The bronze statue with three attendants, depicting Hibernia at War, Hibernia at Peace, and Fame, was designed by Irish sculptor John Hughes and sat at the Kildare Street entrance from 1908 to 1949. It was removed by the coalition government of John A Costello.

At 33ft high, including its pedestal, the statue was stored at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham and then in Daingean, Co Offaly.

Gift

In a letter on the taoiseach’s file, dated August 1984, from Ted Nealon, then minister of state at the Department of the Taoiseach, he suggested giving the statue to the Beamish North of England Open Air Museum.

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But by December the plan had failed. In a confidential letter to Mr Nealon, the English museum’s director Frank Atkinson said he had heard “unofficially” the government were thinking of offering the statue.

“I am told that this particular statue is enormous, and what we are seeking is a small one (life-sized figure at the largest),” he wrote.

Queen Victoria, without attendants, was transported to Sydney in 1987 and now stands outside the Queen Victoria Building in the city.

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