ACROSS FROM ST JAMES’ CHURCH
The architect Francis Sandys was responsible for a number of public fountains in Dublin including this obelisk on James Street in Dublin.
Official description: “Freestanding drinking fountain, erected 1790, comprising fluted Portland stone obelisk with projecting block and oval sundials to each face, ball finial to top, set on painted masonry plinth having carved human masks to each elevation, cast-iron wall-fountains to north, south and west elevations, plaque to east elevation. Surrounded by cast-iron bollards. Restored 1995.”
Originally a basin surrounded the pedestal, into which water flowed from the masks at the base, these were later replaced by the cast-iron fountains by T. Kennedy of Kilmarnock. The obelisk was refaced in 1932.
I have seen the street spelled as James street and James’s Street. For example Google Maps and other descriptions show this monument as being on James Street while a local school is named CBS James’s Street, even though it is on Basin Street.
I was told by a local historian/tourist guide that it was an old custom that funeral processions on passing the fountain would circle it three times before carrying on to the cemetery [I would take that with a pinch of salt as I have heard similar stories associated with other locations].
I have recently noticed that people are complaining online and elsewhere about the lack of fountains in Dublin. In my travels around the city I have come across fountains and would describe them as many and varied. They range, in type and style, from elaborate Victorian masterpieces and modern sculptures to more modest, practical installations. The bad news is that many of the older fountains have fallen into disuse and lie, long forgotten and derelict, in overlooked corners of the city. I have also noted that the majority are dry and have been so for decades.