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Fountains of Abbeyleix

Fountain of the North Monastery School

The Fountain was erected by the De Vesci family in the middle of the 18th Century to provide fresh water for the residence of Rathmoyle and the area known as The Tiles on the Portlaoise Road. It was made of Limestone, previously it had a metal grid surround and a handle to hold the buckets while filling the water. It was damaged while being removed to allow for the road modification in the nineteen eighties. The fountain may have lost some of its original features but nonetheless it looks majestic in its present setting.

Memorial of the 2nd Viscount (Market Square)

An obelisk set on a robust rusticated plinth in the centre of the Market Square. Designed in 1860 by J. S. Butler, it was to commemorate the help, which the de Vesci family gave to the people of Abbeyleix during the famine. The Viscount in order to lessen the hardships of the times reduced all rents; the less property held the greater the reduction. It is one of several fountains in the town that has given the town such a pleasant appearance.

Memorial to the 3rd Viscount (Ballacolla Road, Junction)

A Gothic octagonal shrine built after a competition in 1877 to the design of Rawson Carroll by Lady Emma de Vesci in rememberance of her late husband Tomas the 3rd Viscount. The following is a description of the fountain taken from the Leinster Express, September 21st 1878. “The design of the memorial – a drinking fountain – is Gothic. The first storey stands on a raised platform of cut stone, with steps. It is square in plan with buttresses at each angle and furnished at the top by pinnacles with beautifully carved finials. Each side has a trefoil-headed panel with deeply cut mouldings and polished limestone shafts. Immediately above the lower storey the angles of the square are cut off to form an octagon having richly panelled band course on a base for the upper part. This storey is open with eight limestone pillars, surrounding a central one, with moulded bases and carved tops, from which spring pointed and moulded arches, forming the outer part and corbelled groining connected with the central pillar. Above these arches is a carved cornice, from which rises an octagon spire, ornamented by carved bands of Portland stone, forming an exquisite contrast with the granite in the main building. At the upper part there are four open gablets, and the whole is finished with a wrought iron terminal of a coronet form. In one of the niches of the ground storey (that facing the town) is the fountain; the niche facing the Durrow road bears a shield, with the de Vesci arms; while that facing the station has the inscription recording the object for which the memorial is erected. “The architect was Mr. Rawson Carroll, F.R.I.B.A. Dublin, of which the beauty of whose design we have already spoken, and of the satisfactory manner in which the work was carried out by Mr. Sharpe, of Great Brunswick Street”. Wingfield Memorial (Ballacolla Road)

Wingfield Memorial (Ballacolla Road)

The inscription reads “In Memory of the Honourable and Reverend William Wingfield, Vicar of Abbeyleix 1836 – 1880”. Not only did the Reverend Wingfield serve for a remarkable 44 years as Vicar of Abbeyleix but he also saw remarkable changes in his own parish church building. This is the Vicar who was appointed shortly after the completion of the Semple Church and oversaw the reconstruction of the Church under Sir Thomas Wyatt in the 1860’s. His time also spans the development of Abbeyleix under the De Vesci’s to the rise of Irish Nationalism in the later part of the 19th Century.

Fountain at Little Balladine (Mountrath Road)

Little was uncovered about the history of this fountain. We do know that it was used to supply water to the households on the Mountrath Road, also it provided a drinking trough for the animals on market day. It was restored by Tidy Towns in 2001. The fountain was not operational for a number of years because the old lead pipe system had corroded and seized up. Originally the fountains were water fed by gravity. This system has been replaced by circulating pumps. Each fountain has a common feature, the water that comes through the centre is fed through the mouth of a Gargoyle. It is possible that much of the Limestone was sourced locally because the De Vesci family had their own quarry.