On this day (Letter)

Published in Issue 2 (March/April 2015), Letters, Volume 23

Sir,—There are a couple of minor anomalies in last issue’s ‘On this day’ (HI 23.1, Jan./Feb. 2015). We are told that the sculptor John Hughes, responsible for the monument to Charles Kickham in Tipperary town, died on 28 January 1865. This would indeed be remarkable, because the Kickham monument was commissioned after that Fenian leader died in 1882, and Hughes also sculpted the posthumous monument to Queen Victoria which used to stand outside Leinster House. In fact, 28 January 1865 is the date of Hughes’s birth (or perhaps not; Diarmuid Ferriter’s entry in the Dictionary of Irish Biography says that he was born on 27 January).

The statement that Sir Arthur Guinness, who headed the family’s brewing business from 1868 to 1877 and was responsible for donating St Stephen’s Green to the city of Dublin, died on 20 January 1915 is correct, though the date of his donation would be more correctly given as 1877 (when the necessary legislation was passed) or 1880 (when the Green was opened to the public) rather than 1863 (the date of an earlier abortive legislative attempt to open the Green). However, it might have been worth mentioning that for the last 35 years of his life (from April 1880) Guinness also held the title of Lord Ardilaun, and this is how he is most commonly described, including on the pedestal of his statue in the Green. (Incidentally, the fact that one of the main movers involved in putting up the statue was a former nationalist lord mayor of Dublin and Parnellite MP, Charles Dawson, shows that appreciation of Guinness’s generosity was not confined to those of his own Conservative/Unionist political way of thinking.)—Yours etc.,

PATRICK MAUME
Dictionary of Irish Biography/RIA

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