Captured in the Gael Linn collection, we see how Dublin finally rid itself of "The Thing."

Did you ever hear of "The Thing" that haunted Dublin's O'Connell Bridge? No, this isn't something out of a fantasy novel but a very real piece of public art in Dublin that was the subject of much controversy in the 1950s. 

Much like the wrath that The Spire drew when it was erected on O'Connell Street on the turn of the millennium, The Thing was also much hated by some and eventually, it had to go. 

The "Bowl of Light" or "The Thing," as it was more commonly known, was removed from O’Connell Bridge after a controversial ten-year tenure in Dublin.

The copper bowl sat in the middle of O’Connell Bridge and plastic flames lit up inside it. It was one of many public art installations around the capital, but no piece captured the attention of the public quite like "The Thing."

Built in 1953 for the Tóstal (an event aimed to help encourage visitors to come to Ireland as a tourist destination), it was one of many public sculptures that were located in Dublin from 1953 to 1958.

"The Thing" however was met with much controversy and disdain from its arrival and the removal of it was a cause of celebration for many. It was still vandalized and attacked on numerous occasions, even after several attempts to improve it (flowers were planted in it). Engineers declared it too heavy for the bridge and it was finally removed.

Produced by Gael Linn, Amharc Éireann (A View of Ireland) is Ireland’s longest-running indigenous newsreel series. It was distributed to cinemas throughout the country to promote the Irish language. Between 1956 and 1964, 267 editions of the newsreel were produced for cinema exhibitions.

To see more of the Gael Linn Collection, click here.

The video below is published with thanks to the Irish Film Institute (IFI), whom IrishCentral have partnered up to bring you a taste of what their remarkable collection entails.

You can find all IrishCentral articles and video from the IFI here.

Do you remember "The Thing" being in Dublin? Let us know in the comments section, below. 

To watch more gems from Ireland’s past, visit the IFI Player, a virtual viewing room from the Irish Film Institute, giving audiences across the globe free instant access to Irish heritage preserved in the IFI Irish Film Archive. Irish Culture from the last 100 years is reflected through documentaries, animation, adverts, amateur footage, feature film and much more. Or download the IFI Player Apps for free on iPhone, Android, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Roku.

IrishCentral has partnered up with the IFI throughout 2019 to bring you a taste of what their remarkable collection entails. You can find all IrishCentral articles and videos from the IFI here.

* Originally published in 2019, updated in April 2024.