Photo by Cathal Kavanagh

It cost more than €100,000 to remove the marble fountain from Grand Canal Square last summer, according to documents released under the Freedom of Information Act.

And if we go back a few years, it cost more than €250,000 —  €268, 421.05 to be exact — to put it in, in the first place.

That’s a whole pile of money to spend on a water feature.

If you walked through Grand Canal Square outside the Bórd Gais Theatre between 2007 and the middle of last year, you probably noticed the stacks of marble triangles and bubbles of water. And you might have noticed when the fountain disappeared.

It’s unclear exactly why it was taken away. (There are legal proceedings going on relating to the fountain so Dublin City Council can’t talk about it, it seems.)

In 2013, the Dublin Docklands Development Authority asked planning consultants MacCabe Durney Barnes to take a look at how the square — which had cost €8m to develop — was performing as a public space, and to report back.

In April 2014, the consultants filed their report. Their main finding was that the square was “successfully fulfilling its design role as a significant public open space”.

But there was a “problem feature” it said: the fountain.

They recommended that “the existing water feature be removed and the area paved and that consideration is given to a replacement feature that would be designed to attract small children and be aesthetically pleasing to adults”.

The feature was being damaged by mountain bikes, skateboards, and the weather. “Construction is not sufficiently robust to withstand the use that the feature is experiencing,” it said. Also, it didn’t look as good as it used to, the report’s authors found.

The report carried a warning too: “the feature represents a safety hazard”, it said and could leave the square’s management company open to litigation if anything happened.

The report offered three options: repair and maintenance in the future — although some of the risks around the feature might remain; ripping out the feature and paving the area, which was the “cheapest and easiest” option; or replacing it with a new feature.

Dublin City Council did not respond to queries about whether the damage to the feature could have been avoided, or the cost of the fountain and its removal.

Cathal Kavanagh is currently a student at Trinity College Dublin. He has writen for a number of publications around Dublin, including GoldenPlec and H&G.

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