Demolition Dave: The story behind the Smithfield Sculpture

By Damien Dunne

Damien Dunne speaks to Fidelma Conway as she tells the story behind the ‘Demolition Dave’ monument at Smithfield Luas stop, which was built in memory of her brother David Conway.

Demolition Dave Monument, Smithfield Luas Stop, Dublin (Picture: Damien Dunne)

Can you tell us a bit about David?

“So David worked in construction for many years, and he landed the job with the construction of the Luas. He was demolition manager and was as happy as a clam, the job worked a treat for David because he always liked blowing things up and knocking things down as a kid.

“In his youth he always travelled on motorcycles. He decided to go back to the motorbike and travel that way for his last couple of years, and unfortunately that was his demise. It was when he was on the bike, that he had an accident and we tragically lost him at 38 years of age.

“Around the time of the funeral, I think it was mentioned to the family that the Luas were thinking about putting up a monument of some kind but, to be honest, we were so shocked with David’s passing that we kind of left it. I think it was two years later when the memorial was built, and no one in the family heard about it. I suppose so much time had passed that the new members of Luas didn’t know who to contact, or maybe didn’t want to disturb the family. So, unfortunately there was no one in contact about the unveiling of the sculpture”.

How and when did you hear about the memorial sculpture?

“What happened was it turned up on social media and David’s daughter was sent a picture. Somebody that she knew had been up in Smithfield, had a look at the plaque in front of the sculpture that said, “in memory of Demolition Dave”. They sent it to Emma, David’s daughter, and asked her had it something to do with her dad? Emma then posted it on her social media page so we got in touch then and turned out that it was for David, but we’d never been officially contacted in any way. As far as I am aware, there was no family member that was at any kind of opening, as far as I am aware there was none [opening ceremony]. There is a guy online that documents different monuments around Dublin. One day my husband Eoin came across a question online asking who “Demolition Dave” was. I got in touch with the guy and told him the story behind it. There are quite a few monuments around Dublin that no one knows the history behind, and this guy catalogues them online.

How did you, and your family, feel about not finding out about the memorial until years later?

“For the family, it would have been nice to have been there for the unveiling of it. I think for David and for us as a family, we would have loved to actually have been there for an unveiling. But we are honoured at the fact that they [Luas] thought so highly of him, as did we, to honour David in the first place”. 

Was Demolition Dave a name you would have heard him being called before seeing the monument?

“No not really, it was his work colleagues that had probably nicknamed him “Demolition Dave” but it wouldn’t have been one that we would have had on him.”

Did you ever take a trip with your family to see the monument?

“We did a couple of years back, when Kevin our brother was home from the States. A few of us went up on the train and took photographs. It was kind of a quiet little thing, but it was an emotional thing, for all of us. But it was nice, and I would tell anybody when they’re heading to Dublin, take a look at the monument at Smithfield Luas stop.

“My fear would be that with Dublin City Council changing everything that one day, we’re going to go up and it’s gone. Because Smithfield is one of those areas that really is being redeveloped at the moment, things are moving in all directions, and I feel there is a chance it could disappear one day and nobody will know anything.”

Is there anything I haven’t asked you that you would like to mention?

“We’re just grateful to Luas for thinking and doing what they did. We were really delighted that they acknowledged the guy that he was. He was a larger-than-life character, and David’s funeral showed what a type of guy he was, there was everyone from princes to paupers at it. He knew everybody, he was a rogue, and he was the most lovable, wonderful character. It’s lovely just to have something there so that the world can recognise the special person that we knew we had.”

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