Inside the General Post Office in Dublin (the GPO), there is a statue of which Dubliners are proud. It is a statue representing Cú Chulainn, a high figure in Irish mythology. Located in the heart of the building, this statue is a monument commemorating the Easter rising of 1916. Chosen by Eamon de Valera in 1935, the statue is today a symbol of Dublin’s history.
In Irish mythology, Cú Chulainn is the son of the warrior god Lugh and the mortal woman Deichtine. A heroic figure, he is part of the Irish cultural heritage, and is a true model of moral and political sacrifice in Ireland.
That is why his presence at the General Post in Dublin is no coincidence. As a reminder, the GPO was the scene of the Easter rising in 1916. An event that precipitated Ireland into a period of struggle and combat.
Many Irish then sacrificed themselves in the name of one idea: that of Irish independence. And many died in the struggle.
This is why the sculptor Oliver Sheppard chose the mythological hero Cú Chulainn to pay tribute to the many Irish who sacrificed themselves for this cause. He thus depicts the Irish hero at the moment of his death, killed in battle by his sworn enemy Lugaid.
It would also be a direct tribute to Patrick Pearse, one of the leaders of the rising. The writer William Butler Yeats is said to have traced the rising, describing Patrick Pearse as inhabited by Cú Chulainn. A great figure of courage and resilience.
The statue itself is beautiful. Made of bronze, it has a tragic majesty and charm, worthy of the greatest mythological tragedies.
Eamon de Valera is said to have said at the time that this work was “a beautiful piece of sculpture, the creation of Irish genius, symbolising the dauntless courage and abiding constancy of our people“.
A patriotic representation therefore, which is worth the detour, if only to better understand Irish History.
It should be noted that the statue can be admired free of charge within the GPO.