Sightseeing Ireland

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.”

Forest Bathing or A Walk

Visiting my friend in the country before all this quarantine began, I took myself off to a midland Forest for an extended walk -( extended because I couldn’t find my way back to my car). My mind was searching for nature and fresh air. What used to be called a walk in the woods is now known as ‘Forest bathing’ becasue of the infusion of fresh air from the oxygen released from the trees.

It made me remember that swimming in the sea is now called ‘Nature Bathing’ or ‘Wild Swimming’ or something. While my mother made sure I learned to swim in a pool, she refused all her life to immerse herself in water that had chlorine in it. Taking the plunge in the sea was a regular thing for us and the best way to ‘get down ‘ in the icy water was debated hotly (forgive the pun) within the family.

Halfway through my walk, I felt the ‘call of nature’ – what would we do without euphemisms? , and it made me think how strange it was that noone had given the obeying of that call ‘en plein air’ a gritty, hipster title. ‘Wild Peeing’ comes to mind. Surely the freeing experience of hunkering down among the vegetation and making sure the flow does not go downhill and wet your feet deserves some lofty title., some daredevil, living on the edge descriptive catchphrase?

The phrase ‘ Keep Nicks’ was a well worn in our house among the females. The person with that job had to warn the person peeing that someone was coming and to hurry up. Why is it that such jolly traditions and activities have not been romanticised into a desirable, coming of age experience?

In days gone by, the back field outside a pub was the Lavatory or ‘Wild Peeiing’ location and as a gesture to the rare female who was allowed a glass of lemonade, the location was ‘Where the nettles were cut down’ as a gallant and gentlemanly gesture to the needs of female anatomies.

I digress. I want to share with you what I saw as well as what I thought about on my lengthy perambulation that day. For the moment, think Fallen Branches, Beech seeds with lofty ambitions and three separate encounters with dogs, each encounter as diverse as the dogs themselves. These adventures, as well as the chat I had with a horse or ‘Equine Interaction’ in modern speak will be developed and laid out in my next blog.

Until then, we all will be no more than 2km from a lavatory so I expect no immediate break through in the eulogising of ‘ Wild Peeing’.

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