Victoria Fountain, Dun Laoghaire

Erected in 1901, to commemorate Queen Victoria’s visits to Dun Laoghaire, it was the subject of many demolition attempts, the last of which in 1981 was successful. It was refurbished and re erected in 2003. by ‘Heritage Engineering’ the successor to the original makers, McFarland, a Scottish firm, based in Saracen’s Lane in Glasgow, giving the foundry the name Saracen Castings. there are many examples of this type of fountain around the world, including the Jaffe fountain in Belfast. McFarlands became very successful in the nineteenth century when they introduced a catalogue of castings that could be produced in large quantities.

Queen Victoria did not live long enough to see it, as she died on 22nd January 1901.

The Queen visited Ireland on no fewer  than four occasions during her reign. -1849, 1853, 1861 and 1900.

The fountain itself is covered with a pierced dome supported by eight arches. Queen Victoria is detailed in profile on the monument, together with birds and other ornamentation. It has the words ‘Keep the pavement dry’ imprinted in a circle repeated at each side of the fountain. This must have been a consideration in Victorian times, perhaps when pavements were muddy and could become slippy if the water from the fountain got splashed too far.

She was accompanied by her husband, Prince Albert, on all but the last occasion. He died four months after their 1861 visit,during which they had visited their son Edward, (later to become Edward VII) who was stationed at the Curragh on military duty. As the royal couple left Dun Laoghaire with three of their children, Alfred, Helena and Alice, a twenty one gun salute rang out over the bay from HMS Ajax,the guardship stationed in the harbour at that time.

On each of their visits, they departed on a train to Westland Row, from the Carlisle Pier, except for the 1849 visit at which point the spur to the Carlisle had not been completed.

The train had been connected to Dun Laoghaire in 1834, the world’s first suburban trainline.

The monument is a very decorative and ornamental. It harks back to an earlier period in our history and is a significant landmark. It is described by the architectural historian Peter Pearson in his book Kingstown as “a beautiful monument, a defenceless symbol of the bygone age.”

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