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Dubliners' Dilemma-"Meet you at the What?"

"Meet you at the Pillar" was a commonplace of life for generation after generation of Dubliners. The Pillar, of course, was Nelson's Pillar in the heart of the city in the middle of O'Connell Street, formerly Sackville Street, which hosted a monument to Daniel O'Connell at one end, and a monument to Charles Stewart Parnell at the other.

Thirty-seven years ago the Pillar, upon which stood the one-eyed Nelson, hero of Trafalgar, a famous British naval victory, was blown up, and the mystery of its missing head remains just that, a mystery, something like Nearly Headless Nick in a Harry Potter tale.

After decades of debate the city fathers decided to hold a competition to replace the Pillar with a suitable commemoration of the arrival of the third millennium. Acrimony, contention, and controversy greeted the agreed upon replacement, a 130 metre high stainless steel spire, which was erected a little over two years late, on Tuesday, January 21, 2003. It will be officially unveiled on March 17, Ireland's national holiday.

At twice the height of Liberty Hall and five times that of the historic GPO (General Post Office), site of the headquarters for the 1916 Rising, it is thought to be tallest piece of public art sculpture in the world.

One matter remains to be decided. What will it be called?

As yet Dubliners have not agreed on a name. Is it to be the Spire, the Spike, or "the Yoke in the Sky?". No matter what its official title will be, Dubliners can be counted upon to come up with their own name.

Officially to the City Council it is known as the Spire of Dublin. A move is afoot to have it called the Brian Boru Spire, in honour of the Irish king who beat the Danes at Clontarf in 1014.

A look back, or a look forward? Next month, on March 17 an anxiously awaiting world will learn the answer.

Stop Press: Just as this issue of the Canadian Vindicator was about to go on the World Wide Web came news that the aviation warning light bulb on top of the week-old spire was knocked out by high winds.

Canadians know the story all too well. How many Newfies does it take to change a light bulb? Five. One to hold the bulb and four to rotate the ladder.

How many Dubliners does it take to change a light bulb on the spire? A lot. One to hold the bulb and two thousand to rotate the spire.


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