Here sits William of Orange astride his horse on Dame Street, close to College Green. King Billy was unveiled in 1701, commisioned by Dublin Corporation to commemorate his victory at the Battle of the Boyne over King James in 1690. The artist was Grinling Gibbons.
The Battle of the Boyne and William of Orange himself became integral parts of Ulster Protestant folklore and tradition, with its annual commemoration by the Orange Order every 12 July. As such, it's understandable that this statue was occasionally a focus for nationalist anger - as well as childish pranks. In 1710 the statue was smeared with mud and its sceptre stolen by several students from nearby Trinity College. When caught they were fined, expelled and sentenced to stand before the statue bearing a placard stating their crime.
Further acts of vandalism were numerous, with attempts being made to file off the head as well as the sword being stolen, and watchmen had to be posted at the statue to protect it. In 1805 a man posing as an artisan informed the watchman on duty that he had to paint the statue in anticipation of the 12 July celebrations. When the watchman returned, he found the statue had been covered not with paint, but with a mixture of tar and grease.
The battered statue limped on in this manner until 1929, when it was destroyed in an explosion planned by the IRA.
The Story of Dublin, D. A. Chart, illustrated by Henry J. Howard. (1907)
LROY 727 and LROY 2993 National Library of Ireland