Rocky Balboa has a statue in Philadelphia. RoboCop is represented in Detroit. Now Star Trek fans in Ireland want to give the same honor to Chief Miles O’Brien. Irish actor Colm Meaney played O’Brien in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. O”Brien has been called “the most positive representation of Irishness in popular culture.” Now fans want to enshrine that representation with a statue displayed in Dublin. One fan, Alex Smyth, has launched a petition “In the hopes that this petition reaches it [sic] signature goal. It will be included in a proposal to Dublin City Council to commission an artist to make a statue of Star Trek's Chief Miles O'Brien to be displayed on the streets of Dublin.”
Meaney had a recurring role as O’Brien on Star Trek: The Next Generation. He was the transporter chief aboard the USS Enterprise. In addition ot his Irishness, O’Brien was unique for a couple of reasons. He was a noncommissioned officer, unlike most of the lead characters in Star Trek. He was a family man, marrying his wife Keiko and having their first child before leaving the Enterprise. He was also a veteran of the Federation-Cardassian Border War, making him one of the few characters with significant wartime experience in his backstory. The Next Generation episode “The Wounded” spotlighted that history. It became relevant again when Meaney left The Next Generation to become a series regular on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, with O’Brien becoming the chief of operations for the space station prior to and throughout the Dominion War. At the end of the series, O’Brien returned to Earth to take a teaching position at Starfleet Academy.
Despite some darkness in his past, O’Brien proved to as delightful to have on screen as Meaney was to have on set. This meant that the showrunners felt the need to torture him a bit, turning what became known as “O’Brien Must Suffer” episodes into a tradition. These episodes regularly put O’Brien through the wringer. They include “Tribunal,” where O’Brien is subjected to a Cardassian trial, and “Hard Time,” where O’Brien is forced to live a virtual lifetime in a simulated Cardassian prison.
In a 2009 interview (h/t Memory Alpha), Meaney tried to put into words what he felt O’Brien brought to the series. "I don't know. I think…you know, because of that world that we inhabited, with all of these extraordinary characters who could do extraordinary things, there was a terrific kind of humanity in O'Brien…and that's due to the writing, of course, but it's also in every sense, in that he was humanoid!” he said. “But I think he brought that kind of contemporary sensibility to an extraordinary world, and it's nice to be able to say that. And, of course, we had the storylines with Rosalind Chao, who played my wife, Keiko, which were great, just to be able to play those storylines of domestic tension or the problems facing a kid in that environment."
Do you think O’Brien deserves a statue in Dublin? Let us know in the comments! Do you think O’Brien deserves a statue in Dublin? Let us know in the comments. In the meantime, fans should check out the great webcomic Chief O’Brien at Work by Jon Adams for a look at the daily life of a transporter chief ripe with existential humor.