BOW LANE WEST – JAMES’S STREET
When I first photographed this obelisk the base was painted black and I must admit that I prefer the current colour.
This obelisk with 4 sundials with a drinking fountain at its base was built in 1790 by the Duke of Rutland, the Lord Lieutenant. The architect Francis Sandys was responsible for a number of public fountains in Dublin.
I was told by a local that it was an old custom that funeral processions passing the fountain would circle it three times before carrying on to the cemetery – I would take that with a pinch of salt.
Many, including myself, have complained online and elsewhere about the lack of working fountains in Dublin. In my travels around the city I have come across fountains and would describe them as many and varied. They range, in type and style, from elaborate Victorian masterpieces and modern sculptures to more modest, practical installations.
The bad news is that many of the older fountains have fallen into disuse and lie, long forgotten and derelict, in overlooked corners of the city. Unfortunately the majority are dry.
Bow Lane West runs from Bow Bridge to James’s Street along the southern side of St Patrick’s University Hospital. Bow Bridge crosses the River Camac. There is a small pedestrian lane that connect James’s Street on the south to Bow Lane West on the north. It was previously known as Murdering Lane or The Murd’ring Lane, and first appeared on maps in 1603, until it was renamed ‘Cromwell’s Quarters’ around 1892 when Alderman McSwiney called for the lane to be renamed in order to “preserve historical continuity”. The Cromwell in question was not Oliver Cromwell but his son Henry, who became Lord Deputy of Ireland in 1657. It is currently an unmarked pedestrian stepped alley. The lane is also locally referred to as “The Forty Steps”, even though there are only 39 – I must admit that I never actually counted them but if you do please let me know.