Oscar Wilde Statue

Try Not To Smile

Merrion Square Park - Next to the National Gallery of Art
Public Art

"I can resist everything except temptation."
"Experience is one thing you can't get for nothing."
"Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go."

The Dubs love their famous wits and two of the greatest are remembered with ingeniously appropriate public works of art. Both tributes are found in the same lovely place, Merrion Square Park directly across from the main entrance to the National Gallery of Ireland.

Merrion Square is one of those handsome Georgian residential areas which are the glory of Dublin. Fine brick facades, ornate doorways, graceful and balanced windows and climbing ivy define the look. The dozens of houses surrounding the square overlook the central park.

Two of these fine houses are today museums. There is a Merchant’s House which retains the amenities and furniture of an eighteenth century dwelling. The second is the Oscar Wilde House Museum which allows tours that  must be booked in advance.

Young Oscar Wilde played in the Merrion Square Park and attended school in Trinity College around the corner. The wonderful statue of him in the park recalls perfectly the author’s sardonic view of the world. Wilde is shown reclining against a rock, a leering grin lighting up his double-chinned face. A couple of black marble plinths are inscribed with some of his droll pronouncements.

"Cynicism is knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing."
"Arguments are to be avoided: they are always vulgar and often convincing."
"Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months."

Like few public statues, this one captures not only the look but also the very essence of its subject. It really is like spending a few minutes in the company of Oscar. It’s no wonder that students often recline beside the statue and even give the man a peck on the cheeks when having their photos taken.

Keep wandering the pathways and you’ll spy an oversized, weirdly proportioned throne. Welcome to the perfectly designed tribute to Dermot Morgan, Ireland’s comic king and star of the infamous Father Ted TV series.

Go on. Sit on the throne. You’re sitting in the seat of a giant. And, legs dangling ridiculously, you’ll feel silly.

Try not to smile!

by Scott Simons