From an 8th century church to a village
Early YearsAlthough the exact date is unknown, cartographic evidence suggests that the roundabout, known locally as the Ring, was built in the 1860s. Prior to its construction there was a large open intersection in front of the St Mary’s Church of Ireland church which was remodeled by George Semple in 1831. The intersection was similar in form to a market square, though it is not known if it functioned as one. Several cartographic sources were consulted and from these it can be determined that the ring was constructed before 1868. The addition of the roundabout complemented the church and grounds which are built of the same materials and greatly contributed to the character of the centre of the village. The 1868 map shows that the roundabout was initially a perfect circle. Early photographs from the Stereo Pairs and Lawrence collections show both the ring and the trough. The ring had a plainly landscaped bed within the cast iron bollards and chains set in low cut granite wall. The only other feature was a cast iron lamppost with two lamps supported on elaborate cast iron brackets in the centre.
It looks as though it had three lanterns at one stage, as the top of the post appears to have accommodated a third lantern. The foliate decorative motifs of the lamppost echoed those of the bollards. The trough on the ring was probably added after the construction of the ring. It is not in the 1868 map but was connected to the Vartry Water Supply. The 1861 Waterworks Act contained several provisions, which were intended to improve the water supply in Dublin, and it’s suburbs. Section 38 of the Act stated that Dublin Corporation would have to erect and public water fountains for public use. Horse troughs were also to be constructed. The Vartry Reservoir was completed in 1863. Early Stereo Pairs and Lawrence photographs indicate that the horse trough has been located on the west side of the roundabout since the late 19th century. It appears to have been mounted on a stone plinth, (though site investigation revealed that this is in fact an integral cast iron structure, now buried) with a gap on the west side to allow for drainage of the trough. The trough was also topped with an iron cherub leaning on a staff. Identical cherubs can be found on the fountains in the People’s Park in Dun Laoghaire. They were designed by the Sun foundry in Glasgow and erected in 1895. The Sun foundry specialised in ironwork ranging from gates, railings, gas lamp standards, water troughs and monuments. It is therefore probable that the cherub, trough lampost, bollard and chains were designed by the Sun foundry and that they are roughly the same vintage as those in the People’s park. In addition to the ironwork, there were stone bollards on either side of the trough, which were of the same height as the trough, which prevented damage from vehicles.
TramlinesHorse drawn trams commenced serving Monkstown in 1883 when the Blackrock and Kingstown Tramway Company was set up. In 1893, the (English) Imperial Tramways Company bought the Blackrock and Kingstown Tramway and electrified the route. Decorative cast iron tram standards lined the route. In May 1896, the line from Ballsbridge to Dalkey was opened. Much like the busses that replaced them, the number 7 and number 8 trams ran through Monkstown Road and Monkstown Crescent en route to Dun Laoghaire and Dalkey respectively. The roundabout was altered before 1908, possibly around the time the trams were electrified, as a tram standard and signpost were installed within the roundabout.
The top of the lamppost in the centre was also altered to take a single lantern with Fire Alarm written on two of the glazed panels. The alarm relates to an octagonal feature shown near the foliate base of the lamppost. The plinth and railings behind the trough were reversed in orientation so that there was a concave apse behind the trough. The figurine on top of the trough appears to have been removed and replaced with a moulded cast iron fire hydrant. The stone bollards were truncated. A milestone was added to the north of the trough. Four squat rectilinear bollards, linked with chains were added to the south. The provided a permanent parking space for a cart and fireman’s ladder. The immediate area around the roundabout was also paved with cobbles. Though very successful in its heyday, the tramline was closed in July 1949. The old tram standards were converted to streetlights and moved from their original positions on the closure of the tramway. During the 20th century, probably after the closure of the tramline, the lamppost and signpost were removed from the central area of the roundabout and the centre was planted with trees, shrubs and flowers. The stone bollards and hydrant were removed and signage was also attached to the former tram standard. By the late 1960s the vegetation had become very overgrown. Sometime between 1967 and 1989 the tram standard was removed and the vegetation cut back. Two replica lampposts were added to the north and south of the roundabout and the trough was also converted to a planter.