#rabbleEye: Good King Billy?

In Blog, Culture, Historyby Fedayn1 Comment

King William III

King William III

The Flickr account of the National Library of Ireland posts photographs daily from their ever-increasing archive. The Library asks the public for help identifying the subjects, place and dates of the photos and it is a veritable treasure chest for amateur historians, photography buffs and Hibernophiles.

In this scene William III is seen mounted in College Green and through the work of the commenters we get a date and some fascinating history including the following:

Not all Irish Protestants were uncritical supporters of King William, and because the King had shown partiality towards Dissenters, Irish Tories were ill at ease with the reverence afforded William III by their Whig rivals. These views were especially entrenched in Trinity College, which overlooked the new statue, and led directly to the expulsion of one student for drinking a toast to Sorrel, the horse that threw William to his death. Another student was stripped of his degree for comparing William unfavourably to an executed highwayman.

In 1710, William’s statue was daubed with mud and his sceptre stolen. Following an offer of £100 reward by Dublin Castle and a further £100 by Dublin Corporation, three Trinity students were caught and prosecuted for the offence and sentenced to six months imprisonment, a £100 fine, and to stand a day before the statue they had vandalised with a placard bearing witness to their offence. The sentences were subsequently commuted, but it was too late to save the students university careers and they were not readmitted to the college. However, four years later the sceptre was stolen again and broken, and when those responsible were not discovered, a sentinel was posted to keep guard in a futile effort to save the statue from further vandalism. Over the years the statue continued to attract the unfavourable attention of the students of Trinity College.

The statue of King William III was not damaged in the 1929 explosion, only the plinth was damaged, Dublin Corporation decided to remove it , as they said it was a traffic hassard! . It remained in a Corporation store for years, and in the 1940s some one broke in and sawed off the head, shortly after that it was melted down

For more follow this link NLI on FLickr


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