Viscount Hugh Gough—an ‘illustrious Irishman’ and controversial British military commander
23T11:19:02Z April 2019
In 1986 an equestrian statue depicting Viscount Hugh Gough and describing him as an ‘illustrious Irishman’ whose achievements have ‘added lustre to the military glory of his country’ was sold to a private buyer by the Office of Public Works, allegedly on condition that the statue leave Ireland. The statue, originally erected in Phoenix Park in 1880, had been beheaded by vandals in 1944, and was blown up by the IRA in 1957. The OPW kept the broken statue in storage for almost three decades until a buyer was found and it eventually ended up in the possession of a distant Gough relative in England. Just who was this ‘illustrious Irishman’ honoured in this way but later so reviled his statue had to be exiled? Hugh Gough, a Limerick Protestant, was a renowned commander in the British Army but was later denounced by anti-imperialists for his colonial role in the Chinese Opium War and the Sikh Wars in India. The National Library recently catalogued and made available the Gough papers, a collection relating to Hugh Gough and his family. The papers reveal much about the life of this ‘illustrious Irishman’ and his lengthy military career.
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