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It's not open to the public, but it's worth lingering outside Mansion House, Dawson Street, if only because of its fascinating history. The Queen Anne-style building has been the official residence of Dublin's lord mayors since 1715. In 1919, the first Dáil Éireann (House of Representatives) assembled here to adopt Ireland's Declaration of Independence and ratify the Proclamation of the Irish Republic.

Monumental Humor

Dublin boasts countless public monuments, some modest, others boldly evident. The Irish make a sport of naming them, giving their irrepressible wit and ridicule yet another outlet. A sampler:

Poor Molly Malone, who, in song, "wheeled her wheelbarrow through streets broad and narrow," appears with her cockles and mussels at the intersection of Nassau and Grafton streets, across from Trinity College. Due to her ample bosom and plunging neckline, this statue is called a number of acerbic rhymes, including "the Tart with the Cart,""the Trollop with the Scallop," and "the Flirt in the Skirt."

Just around the corner from Molly on Dame Street stands another sculpture, a silent frenzy of trumpeters and streaming columns of water, proclaiming "You're a nation again" -- popularly transliterated as "urination again."

The city's newest major monument is the Millennium Spire, a 120m-high (394-ft.) needle thrusting upward in the middle of traffic on O'Connell Street. Made of stainless steel and designed by London architect Ian Ritchie, the spire is intended to reflect the Dublin of the 21st century. (It replaced Nelson's Pillar, a statue of the British Admiral Horatio Nelson, erected under British rule and blown up by the IRA in 1966, on the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising. Nelson's head was all that survived, and it is now in the Dublin Civic Museum.) Dubliners have had great fun coming up with a suitable nickname for the spire. The favorite is simply "the Spike," although other front-runners include "the Stiletto in the Ghetto," “the Skewer in the Sewer,” “the Nail in the Pale,” and, rather more ribald, "Erection at the Intersection" and “the Stiffy by the Liffey.”

Then there's the statue of Ireland's great patriot Wolfe Tone. Born at 44 Stafford St. in 1763 and graduated from Trinity College, Tone went on to spark a revolutionary fervor among the Irish. He is commemorated in thoroughly modern fashion on the north side of St. Stephen's Green by a semicircle of rough-hewed columns locally known as "Tonehenge."

The best renamed statue, though, is no more. Until a few years ago, Anna Livia, James Joyce's mythical personification of the River Liffey, could be found cast in bronze on O'Connell Street across from the General Post Office. The unattractive, hard-to-like statue reclining in streaming water was widely reviled -- you'd be hard-pressed to find anybody who didn't hate it. It was nicknamed "the Floozy in the Jacuzzi." Due to the statue's intense unpopularity, it was removed for many years, but has recently been relocated to the Croppies Acre Memorial Park, next to Collins Barracks.

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