Restored Richard Russell Fountain Returns To Peoples Park

Tuesday, November 10th 2009

Limerick’s unique Richard Russell Fountain has been officially re-opened in the city’s award winning People’s Park today (Tuesday) after months of restoration work in the UK.

The fountain, the only one of its kind in the State, has been returned to the Peoples’ Park after spending 7 months being carefully restored by Eura Conservation in Telford. 

Limerick City Council and Limerick Civic Trust decided to restore the fountain which dates from the 1870s after a careful inspection found that it was in a very poor state of repair and was, in fact, in danger of falling.

The fountain was dismantled without the use of many tools as the reinforcements and supporting materials were badly damaged. It was therefore only a matter of time before the fountain collapsed due to the weight of the dome. The conservation team returned to Telford within days of beginning the dismantling process and transported the historic Richard Russell fountain across the Irish Sea.
Simon Ward, Eura Restoration Project Manager described the condition as “quite unlike anything that I have seen before”.
“This did make the project challenging to say the very least,” said Simon. “I would now rate the restoration as a fascinating and a personal favourite”.

The work that followed began with a blasting and cleaning process to ascertain if there were any further problems lurking under the paint work.
What Eura did find was an impressive pallet of hues after carrying out a colour analysis test.  To remain true to the original form the fountain was returned back to a glorious mixture of red and white. Before painting began however immense work was carried out to repair and replace the damaged or lost parts of the fountain.

To save on expenditure Eura used moulds that were already available as they had recently restored the Jaffe fountain in Belfast.  The Jaffe is an exact replica of the Richard Russell fountain as both were cast in the Sun Foundry, Glasgow.
It is now difficult to spot the new sections from the old because the pieces were cast in the traditional way by Eura’s blacksmith.

This process on the Restoration of the Richard Russell Fountain can now be viewed on a film by Tara McKewon showing in the Georgian House, No 2 Pery Square.

 A substantial part of the work involved reinforcing and weatherproofing the fountain to ensure that it will be another 150 years if not longer before the fountain will need to be restored again. 

Although relatively small in size at just 10 acres, the Peoples’ Park is one of Ireland’s premier parks. This is in no small part due to the dedication of the park staff who were instrumental in achieving national awards in 2003 and 2004 along with securing Ireland’s first Green Flag award in 2008. Without this dedicated team the park would not be the haven that it is today.

Denis Leonard from Limerick Civic Trust said that the People’s Park has remained largely unchanged since it first opened in 1877.
“The layout and many of the original features such as the railings, pavilions and bandstands still remain,” he said. “Limerick Civic Trust in association with Limerick City Council provided new benches throughout the park, in 2008, that were purposely designed with the elderly and disabled in mind.
We also restored the two Victorian Pavilions in the Park along with developing a new entrance gateway know as the Pery Gate, facing Colbert Train Station. This project was an outstanding success and the gateway was officially opened by Lord and Lady Limerick in 2008 to mark the 25th anniversary of Limerick Civic Trust,” he added. 

Mr Leonard said that conservation funds gathered from the Pery Family and the Park Trustees all contributed to the wonderful restoration that you see today.

As an additional feature the fountain has been lit by the ESB to provide a night time feature that will be visible from three streets.

Last update:13/11/2009