The idea of a Memorial to Our Lady was first suggested at a Retreat held for Dockers in Roebuck Retreat Centre, Dublin in June 1950. It was intended to be a Marian year (1954) tribute to the Mother of God.
Within a few weeks a committee was elected to discuss the details of the project and to organise fund raising. This committee comprised mainly of Marine Port Union members with Fr Edward Rhatigan as Chairman, William Nelson as Treasurer and Pat Lennon as Secretary.
A signed certificate was given to all subscribers of 21 shillings, a Guinea. Whereas funds grew rapidly initially the target was not achieved by 1954 and the search for a site in the Docks area proved difficult.
Due to the delays the original committee members were disappearing. William Nelson remained as treasurer, Fr Vincent Keogh became chairman, and 2 new members Louis Dixon and Paddy Moran gave the project renewed energy. Regular meetings were now hosted by Fr Keogh in the CYMS Ringsend.
By Patrician Year 1961 the funds had grown to £10,000 and a site had been promised but later withdrawn due to development plans by the ESB. However before a huge gathering of people in Ringsend Park the foundation and inscription stone was blessed by the Apostolic Nuncio, Cardinal Agagianian in the presence of John Charles McQuaid.
Further possible sites were surveyed at Howth and Clontarf but unsuitability and local objections meant the hopes were dashed.
Despite these setbacks continued perseverance by William Nelson, Louis Dixon and a new committee member, Bill Rhatigan the statue was finally erected on 24th Sept 1972 on the Bull Wall. The funds had reached £17,000, just enough to get the statue sculpted by Cecil King, built by William Lacey with the expertise of consulting engineer Bernard Le Casne-Byrne, all of whom were extremely generous with their time.
The statue stands as a monument to all those who gave of their time so willingly.
But most of all it stands as a continual reminder to the absolute dedication of my grandfather, William Nelson who was determined that the idea, floated in 1950 would eventually become a reality. 22 years of untiring work showing his devotion to the Mother of God but also his ability to see a difficult project through to completion so the workers and residents of Dublin city would have their own ‘Mary Queen of Dublin Bay’.
‘Mary Queen of Dublin Bay, shine your light on us today’