herald

Wednesday 7 December 2016

Council plan to knock hole in Merrion Sq fountain is opposed

Rutland Memorial Fountain
Rutland Memorial Fountain

Plans to knock through a historic Dublin monument have angered heritage groups.

Rutland Memorial Fountain in Merrion Square may be a casualty of Dublin City Council's plans to build a new entrance to the park.

The Council aims to build a doorway through the fountain, which was installed in 1792, as part of a major revamp.

But An Taisce heritage officer Ian Lumley said that inappropriate damage would be caused if the plans were to go ahead.

"An Taisce considers that any proposal to turn the central arched recess of the Rutland fountain into a new entrance into Merrion Square would be inappropriate, injurious to the integrity of its design character and would prevent future restoration of the original design," he said.

Conservationists from the Irish Georgian Society said there is no need for a new entrance to the park, and interventions would damage the integrity of the structure.

Howley Hayes Architects said the idea of a new doorway "might appear to be a quite radical proposition", but it would give the structure a "new purpose".

However, Cllr Kate O'Connell said the last thing the fountain needs is a new purpose.

"I would consider the monument to be art and art doesn't need a purpose," she said.

"I personally would be in favour of restoring the monument to its former glory. If we go bashing a hole into the middle of it, we can't go back.

"I support the park, but I don't see the need for a massive entrance.

Protect

"We have to respect groups like An Taisce and the Irish Georgian Society whose role is to protect areas of heritage and national importance," she said.

Les Moore, the head of park services for the Council, said the Council has asked the architects to illustrate the proposal further to enable discussion and debate.

"Merrion Square was originally a garden for the residents who lived there, and there were six small gates into the park and residents had keys for those, so there is no main entrance into the park," he said.

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