Work begins in Dublin to construct a 120 metre steel spire which will be the focal point of a redeveloped O'Connell Street.

From 1809 until 1966 the Nelson Pillar, or Nelson’s Pillar, as it became known locally, dominated Dublin’s O’Connell Street. The top half of the pillar was blown up by republicans in March 1966, and the remainder of it had to be demolished by the army, with a controlled explosion.  

In the years that followed, as no decision could be reached or plans put in place for a replacement landmark, the site remained vacant.  

In 1998 there was a competition to find a replacement for the Nelson Pillar, but plans for the Spire of Light ended up in the High Court, so it was not in place for the Millennium celebrations. 

Monument designer Ian Ritchie spoke about his inspiration for the Spire, 

Monuments are a difficult thing for designers and for people I think, because we’re not interested so much in creating a memorial to an individual, and I think this one for me is about the diaspora of the Irish, and the fact that it’s coming back together in this incredibly energetic young country again.

Dubliners interviewed for this report were not overly enthusiastic about the design of the new monument, with one man declaring,

It’s a waste of money, and I think it’s too high, and that we should have a statue like James Larkin or Michael Collins.

The Spire is part of a multi-million euro redevelopment of O’Connell Street, which is due to be completed in 2004.

An RTÉ News Report broadcast on 8 April 2002. The reporter is Paul Cunningham.