CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS MONUMENT
Located near the iconic Spanish Arch in Galway City you will find a monument to Christopher Columbus, the famous explorer who is credited with discovering America in 1492.
The monument was erected in 1992, the year of the Columbus Quincentenary, to commemorate his visit to Galway in 1477. According to some sources, Columbus came to Galway to study the maps and charts of the Atlantic Ocean, and to gather information about the lands beyond the horizon.
In the margin of his copy of Imago Mundi, Columbus noted: Men of Cathay have come from the west. [Of this] we have seen many signs. And especially in Galway in Ireland, a man and a woman, of extraordinary appearance, have come to land on two tree trunks [or timbers? or a boat made of such?]
The monument was a gift from Genoa, Columbus’s hometown, to Galway, as a sign of friendship and cultural exchange. The inscription on the plinth reads:
“on these shores around 1477
the genoese sailor cristoforo colombo
found sure signs of land beyond the atlantic
la citta di genova alla citta de galway
However, not everyone sees Columbus in such a positive light. In recent years, there has been a growing debate about his legacy and his role in the colonization and exploitation of the Americas. Many critics argue that Columbus was responsible for initiating a genocide of the indigenous peoples, as well as for introducing slavery, disease, and violence to their lands. They also question his motives and his achievements, pointing out that he never actually reached North America, and that he was not the first European to cross the Atlantic.
In June 2020, during the global protests against racism and police brutality sparked by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, USA, several statues of Columbus were vandalized or removed in different cities around the world. In Galway, the monument was defaced with red paint and graffiti, calling for its removal. Some activists claimed that the monument glorified slavery and oppression, and that it was an insult to the native Irish people who had suffered under British colonialism.
The controversy over the monument reflects the complexity and diversity of perspectives on history and identity. Some people see it as a tribute to a brave explorer who opened new horizons for humanity, while others see it as a reminder of a brutal invader who destroyed ancient civilizations. Some people see it as a symbol of cultural connection between Galway and Genoa, while others see it as a symbol of cultural domination by Europe over America.
The monument remains standing next to the Spanish Arch, but its future is uncertain. It may be relocated, modified, or removed altogether, depending on the outcome of future public consultations and political decisions.
Had to be Canadian or Greenlander Inuit!
Cool to see this in person, as I have done, and to think of what inspired Columbus, and that the next stop from this port due west is East coast of North America