It’s a feature of The Liberties with many names: the Fountain (as it was originally intended to be), The Catholic Emancipation Monument, the Sacred Heart statue and even the ‘Holy Mary’ statue – at the junction of Gray Street and Reginald Street. The decorative arch has recently been freshly repainted and planted (big thank you to the very keen local gardener!) as part of a refurbishment of two prominent Liberties’ landmarks.
The original structure was a much more ornate water fountain installed by Reginald Brabazon, Earl of Meath in 1897, commemorating the visit of Queen Victoria to Ireland and also adding to his model artisan housing development undertaken by the Dublin Artisan Dwellings Company, of which he and his reforming wife were members. It’s a shame that original structure was lost. The new simpler canopy and statue of the Sacred Heart was installed in 1929 to commemorate the centenary of Catholic Emancipation and that year’s Eucharistic Congress in Dublin, while the canopy was further modified over the years and its latest incarnation dates from the early 1980s (possibly to mark Pope John Paul II’s visit to Ireland in 1979).
Around the corner on The Coombe, the lone portico of the former hospital has also been upgraded with repainting of its railings, new planted areas and new floodlighting. The portico, of course, doubles as a record of some of the well-known street characters of 20th century Dublin, who are listed on the rear steps.
The refurbishment work has been undertaken by Dublin City Council South Central Area Office and gives a fresh profile to two interesting features of the area.