A local lawmaker in Galway County, Ireland is lobbying for the removal of a monument honoring a native son who fought for the Confederacy as similar tributes continue to come down across the pond in the old South and beyond.
Councillor Shaun Cunniffe this week said he’ll use an upcoming municipal meeting in the town of Taum to discuss the future of a plaque commemorating Richard ‘Dick’ Dowling, Ireland’s only Confederate memorial, according to The Irish Post.
Dowling was born near Tuam in 1837 but fled to the U.S. as a kid when his family emigrated during the Great Famine. He eventually settled in Houston, Texas, and a plaque currently inside Tuam Town Hall recognizes him as a “business and civic leader” credited with starting the Lone Star State’s first-ever oil company.
The monument only hints as Dowling’s involvement as a Confederate lieutenant, however, and Mr. Cunniffe said he wants it gone given the current controversy unfolding in the U.S. surrounding similar monuments.
“Having thought about it, I think it’s fair to say that even though he was a great businessman and civic leader, [he was] a successful Confederate in the army. The whole point of the Confederate war was to support slavery in the South,” Mr. Cunniffe told The Journal, a Dublin-based news site.
“It is extraordinary that his family were evicted in 1845, he did very well in America, yet fought to enslave other people,” he said in an interview with The Irish Times.
The plaque acknowledges Dowling’s involvement in the American Civil War and says he foiled an attempted invasion by federal troops in 1863, but doesn’t explicitly mention he was a member of the Confederate Army.
“It celebrated that a person from our area did so well in business and was a civic leader and unfortunately really we didn’t consciously clearly [think] that the civil war was about one of the most fundamental rights of freedom. It didn’t seem for one reason or another to be discussed,” Mr. Cunniffe said of the plaque. .
“It is important that it is remembered from there, but but I would like to see it put somewhere where it can be viewed in context and maybe used as a discursive piece,” he told The Journal.
The councilor hopes to discuss his plans before the Municipal Authority of Tuam on Sept. 11, he said.
“It will be interesting to hear all views and historical input” on the issue, he told The Journal.
Efforts to remove Confederate monuments in the U.S. have ramped-up in recent weeks after a woman was killed in Charlottesville, Virginia, this month while protesting a rally held by individuals opposed to the city’s decision to remove a statue honoring Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. Monuments honoring the likes of Lee and others have attracted significant scrutiny ever since, and a Houston man was arrested last weekend for allegedly attempting to blow up a statue there of Dowling because he “did not like that guy,” according to police.