Foundation stone

In Brief

At the north end of O'Connell Street, the funeral procession passes by the site of an intended monument to Ireland's other great 19th century leader, which was to complement the monument to O'Connell at the southern end. In 1904 the monument had not yet been erected, so Bloom sees nothing more than the foundation stone: "Foundation stone for Parnell. Breakdown. Heart."

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The base for the monument to the great man was constructed in 1899, but not until 1911 did it receive the statue made by notable American sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens and the triangular granite column designed by architects Henry Bacon and George P. Sheridan. Unlike O'Connell at the south end of the boulevard, Parnell stands at the bottom of the obelisk, and he looks down the street. Some Irish wits (Dubliners are notoriously irreverent toward their public works of art) have observed that Parnell's raised hand seems to be pointing toward the Rotunda, suggesting that when he says, "No man has a right to fix the boundary to the march of a nation," he is urging his countrymen to outbreed the competition.

If other monuments to great men along the route of the funeral carriages suggest ghosts living on in the present, Parnell's unfinished stone evokes (in Bloom) simply loss. The "Breakdown" happened after Parnell lost control of his party in the wake of the Katherine O'Shea scandal. Struggling desperately to return to the public's good graces, he undertook a grueling schedule of speeches around the nation, and, Gifford notes, "in so doing he seriously undermined his already precarious health. He finally broke down after being soaked in the rain during a speaking engagement and died of a complex of causes (rheumatism, pneumonia, etc.) simplistically diagnosed as 'heart attack.'"

JH 2015
The monument to Parnell today. The Rotunda can be seen in the background. Source: corabuhlert.com.
The statue and inscription at the base of the column. Source: www.aoh.com.