SUPPORT OUR JOURNALISM: Please consider donating to keep our website running and free for all - thank you!

British Royals

From Ireland to Australia: How Queen Victoria’s statue travelled the world

Not many statues have travelled such lengths as this statue of Queen Victoria. Queen Victoria herself visited Ireland in the year before her death. Ireland was still 16 years away from their independence and Victoria’s visit received mixed reactions. However, 52,000 people turned up to welcome her when she arrived, and she was warmly received everywhere she went.

When she died in January 1901 the idea for a memorial formed and eight years later people gathered around Leinster House, the home of the Irish Government, for the unveiling of the statue.

The bronze fifteen-feet tall statue was designed by John Hughes, an Irishman, and he tried to portray her as the Queen of Ireland instead of the British monarch. On the base of the statue were the words: “Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Empress of India, erected by her Irish subjects”.

The statue did not remain there for very long. It survived Ireland’s independence but in the 1940’s the Irish government realised her presence there was no longer appropriate. She was then offered back but she was refused, for unknown reasons. The town of London in Canada agreed to take her, but no one was willing to pay the shipping costs and the plan never happened. She was removed from Leinster House in 1939 and went to a far less glamorous place, a storage facility in Kilmainham hospital.

Expansions to the hospital forced the statue to be moved again and she was left on the abandoned grounds of a former reformatory in Daingean from 1980 She was finally put back in a proper place in 1986 when she was shipped to Sydney, Australia. The Australians did some work restoring her to her former glory and a new unveiling was planned for 20 December 1987.

48 years after being last on display the Queen Victoria Statue was unveiled outside Sydney’s Queen Victoria Building and this piece of Irish history now lives on the other side of the world. But no worries, should Ireland ever want her back, they are free to take her as she is only on loan!