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General Henry Hall Memorial Fountain

Location: Dublin, Ireland

This structure commonly known as the Five Lamps was erected in 1875 courtesy of Lieutenant General Henry Hall C. B. of Merville House, Stillorgan, who served with the British Army and was superintendent of the Ajmer-Merwara region in India for 10 years. Upon his death, his will revealed a monetary bequest to be directed to the installation of two drinking fountains ‘to encourage sobriety’.

It is located at the junction of five streets: Debate exists regarding the reason for 5 lamps, popularly believed to signify the five connecting streets. It is also alleged to symbolize the five battles fought by the British against the anti-colonial revolt in India. There is apparently a Hindu tradition of lighting five lamps or candles for luck Seville Place, Amiens Street, Portland Row, Killarney Street and North Strand Row.

The drinking fountain is design number 175 registered to George Smith & Co. manufactured by the Sun Foundry in Glasgow.  Demi-lune quatrefoil basins which doubled as horse troughs are supported by a square base with chamfered corners. Panels decorated with palmette and acanthus relief flank each basin. Each side of the central column contains a compass cross at the centre of which is a lion mask with a self-closing tap from which water spouted. Originally there were metal cups suspended on chains.

A frieze of laurel wreaths is situated beneath the capital upon which there is a lamp standard with four decorative feet. The pedestal has a bulbous base with bas-relief extending with fluted column and bands to a two tiered acroter, the terminal of which is a candelabrum of 5 glass lanterns with elaborate consoles.

As cast iron is prone to do, it rusted over decades, and at one time was missing a couple of the lamps. It was restored in 1987 as part of the Dublin Millennium. Grime and paint were sandblasted, the lamps were removed for restoration by craftsmen, and 70-watt high pressure sodium lights were installed. Three missing lion heads were recast and the basins were filled in to prevent vandalism. The road signs which were mounted on the structure were removed.

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Glossary:

  • Acanthus, one of the most common plant forms (deeply cut leaves) to make foliage ornament and decoration
  • Acroter, flat base
  • Bas-relief, sculpted material that has been raised from the background to create a slight projection from the surface
  • Capital, the top of a column that supports the load bearing down on it
  • Chamfer
  • Compass cross, a cross of equal vertical and horizontal lengths, concentric with and overlaying a circle.
  • Console, a decorative bracket support element
  • Demi-lune, half moon or crescent shape
  • Frieze, the horizontal part of a classical moulding just below the cornice, often decorated with carvings
  • Mask/Mascaron, a decorative element in the form of a sculpted face or head of a human being or an animal
  • Palmette, a decorative motif resembling the fan shaped leaves of a palm tree
  • 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
  • Terminal, statue or ornament that stands on a pedestal

 

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