Limerick’s much loved Richard Russell Fountain is a favourite of mine even though it has a twin in Belfast, one is red and the other is yellow.
The fountain, the only one of its kind in the State, has been returned to the Peoples’ Park after spending 7 months being carefully restored by Eura Conservation in Telford.
Limerick City Council and Limerick Civic Trust decided to restore the fountain which dates from the 1870s after a careful inspection found that it was in a very poor state of repair and was, in fact, in danger of falling.
The fountain was dismantled without the use of many tools as the reinforcements and supporting materials were badly damaged. It was therefore only a matter of time before the fountain collapsed due to the weight of the dome. The conservation team returned to Telford within days of beginning the dismantling process and transported the historic Richard Russell fountain across the Irish Sea.
Simon Ward, Eura Restoration Project Manager described the condition as “quite unlike anything that I have seen before”. “This did make the project challenging to say the very least,” said Simon. “I would now rate the restoration as a fascinating and a personal favourite”.
The work that followed began with a blasting and cleaning process to ascertain if there were any further problems lurking under the paint work. What Eura did find was an impressive pallet of hues after carrying out a colour analysis test. To remain true to the original form the fountain was returned back to a glorious mixture of red and white. Before painting began however immense work was carried out to repair and replace the damaged or lost parts of the fountain.
To save on expenditure Eura used moulds that were already available as they had recently restored the Jaffe fountain in Belfast. The Jaffe is an exact replica of the Richard Russell fountain as both were cast in the Sun Foundry, Glasgow. It is now difficult to spot the new sections from the old because the pieces were cast in the traditional way by Eura’s blacksmith.
A substantial part of the work involved reinforcing and weatherproofing the fountain to ensure that it will be another 150 years if not longer before the fountain will need to be restored again.