Dunscombe Testimonial Fountain

Location: Cork, Republic of Ireland

The fountain which once stood at the end of Shandon Street in Brown’s Square adjacent to the North Gate Bridge supplied drinking water to the north side of the city. The area served as a place for traders and vendors to sell their goods. The image below shows holly for sale dating it in the Christmas season.

The drinking fountain was donated in April 1883 to the Cork Corporation in memory of Reverend Nicholas Colthurst Dunscombe who was ordained in 1823, a leading Protestant clergyman, Rector of Temple Michael De-Duah, and a founding member of the Temperance Movement in the city. As an advocate for moderation in alcohol consumption a drinking fountain was a very suitable memorial.


Circa 1939

A committee administered donations to fund the construction and erection of the fountain which was in situ from 1883 until 1935 when it was removed. There is no record of the reason for its removal or the whereabouts of its relocation.

The design was registered by George Smith & Co. and manufactured by the Sun Foundry. It was seated on a two tiered octagonal plinth. A compass cross base with canted corners supported a central pedestal and four columns decorated with diamond frieze and nail head molding. The font (design number 13) was a large basin with dog tooth relief on the rim, partitioned by four foliate consoles from which cups were suspended on chains. Shell motif spouts on each side released water flow.

A central column with engraved dedication supported an inverted umbrella-style canopy with highly decorated acanthus scroll work. The cornice was intricate open fret detail with four consoles supporting glass globes lanterns lit by gas. The dome consisted of eight panels rising to two bands; one of open filigree and the other engraved bas-relief. An ogee roof supported the lamp finial with crown and pyramid apex.

Sun_Airdrie 1867

Used with permission, John P. Bolton. Source: Scottish Ironwork Foundation


  • Acanthus, one of the most common plant forms (deeply cut leaves) to make foliage ornament and decoration. It is symbolic of a difficult problem that has been solved.
  • Bas-relief, sculpted material that has been raised from the background to create a slight projection from the surface
  • Canted corner, an angled surface which cuts of a corner
  • Compass cross, a cross of equal vertical and horizontal lengths, concentric with and overlaying a circle.
  • Console, a decorative bracket support element
  • Cornice, a molding or ornamentation that projects from the top of a building
  • Dog tooth frieze, pyramid shaped carving
  • Filigree, fine ornamental work
  • Finial, a sculptured ornament fixed to the top of a peak, arch, gable or similar structure
  • Foliate, decorated with leaves or leaf like motif
  • Fret, running or repeated ornament
  • Frieze, the horizontal part of a classical moulding just below the cornice, often decorated with carvings
  • Nail head molding, a series of low four-sided pyramids
  • Ogee, curve with a concave
  • Pedestal, an architectural support for a column or statue
  • Plinth, flat base usually projecting, upon which a pedestal, wall or column rests.

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