Victoria Drinking Fountain

Location: Dun Laoghaire, County Dublin, Ireland

Located in the People’s Park on Marine Road it is known as the Victoria Fountain, erected to commemorate the visit of Queen Victoria to Dublin in 1900. She disembarked at the harbour in Kingstown (now renamed Dun Laoghaire.)

In 1981 the fountain was almost destroyed by the Republicans, but four years later it was restored to working order and illuminated. The following year the fountain was rededicated to mark the 70th anniversary of the 1916 Rising, and an inscribed stone paving slab was laid beside it.

The most current restoration of the fountain was completed using patterns from the original manufacturer which are owned by Heritage Engineering and Restoration. This Scottish firm recreated the cast iron filigree dome, and completed a paint analysis to discover the original colour of the structure. In the final stages of restoration, a water supply was provided and the structure was lit using fibre optics. The project, funded by the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company, was completed in 2002.

The canopied drinking fountain is design number 20, an elaborate 18 feet by 4 feet fountain, sold by Walter Macfarlane & Co, and manufactured at the Saracen Foundry, Possilpark, Glasgow, Scotland. Seated on a double octagonal plinth, the open filigree canopy is supported by eight columns with griffin terminals which are positioned over capitals with foliage frieze above square bases.

The highly decorated cusped arches are trimmed with rope mouldings. Cartouches contained within each lunette offer shields for memorial.

  • Inscription: Restored by Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company 2002
  • Inscription: Erected to commemorate the visit of Her Majesty Queen Victoria April 1900
  • Two shields display a crane standing on one leg
  • Two shields display a swan in water
  • One shield has an engraved head of Queen Victoria wearing a crown, and another shield with the head of a man wearing a crown.

On each side arch faceplates provide a flat surface for inscription using raised metal letters; often the useful monition, Keep the pavement dry. Civic virtues such as temperance were often extolled in inscriptions on drinking fountains.

Doves and flowers offer decorative relief on the circular, ribbed dome. The internal capitals contain flowers, statues of owls on enlarged column heads, and lion mascarons on internal shields. An imperial crown finial is at the apex.

Under the canopy stands the font (design number 18.) A circular shaft, ornamented with water lilies, rests on a wide base with canted corners. Four lion jambs support four highly decorated quatrefoil basins. Rising from the centre is a pyramid shaped stanchion decorated with swan and bird decoration. The terminal is a winged horse originally with four consoles that offered drinking cups suspended by chains.

Symbolism was popular in Victorian times. Griffins are symbolic of guardians of priceless possessions; cranes are recognized as a symbol of vigilance, lions are symbolic of guardianship, owls are symbolic of guardians of the afterlife, and the winged horse’s connection with water derives from the myth that everywhere Pegasus struck his hoof to the earth, an inspiring spring burst forth.


  • Canted corner, an angled surface which cuts of a corner
  • Capital, the top of a column that supports the load bearing down on it
  • Cartouche, a structure or figure, often in the shape of an oval shield or oblong scroll, used as an architectural or graphic ornament or to bear a design or inscription.
  • Console, a decorative bracket support element
  • Cusped Arch, the point of intersection of lobed or scalloped forms
  • Filigree, fine ornamental work
  • Finial, a sculptured ornament fixed to the top of a peak, arch, gable or similar structure
  • Fret, running or repeated ornament
  • Frieze, the horizontal part of a classical moulding just below the cornice, often decorated with carvings
  • Griffin, winged lion denotes vigilance and strength, guards treasure and priceless possessions
  • Imperial crown, a crown encrusted with jewels surmounted with a pattée cross
  • Jamb, a projecting vertical post containing sculpture
  • Lunette, the half-moon shaped space framed by an arch, often containing a window or painting
  • Mascaron, a decorative element in the form of a sculpted face or head of a human being or an animal
  • Plinth, flat base usually projecting, upon which a pedestal, wall or column rests
  • Quatrefoil, a type of decorative framework consisting of a symmetrical shape which forms the overall outline of four partially-overlapping circles of the same diameter
  • Stanchion, upright bar or post providing support
  • Terminal, statue or ornament that stands on a pedestal

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