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PUBLIC ART - BLESSINGTON STREET BASIN [SIGMA 180mm LENS]
Originally, Blessington Street Basin was constructed as the Royal George Reservoir in 1810, fed by the Royal Canal from Lough Owel. The reservoir was used to store and distribute water to the north city until 1865, and continued to supply water to distilleries until much more recently – to Jameson until 1970, and to Power’s until 1976. It was opened as a public park, but by the 1990s, the basin was silted, stagnant, and full of debris, the water was bounded by a chicken wire fence, and some of the surrounding walls had collapsed.

It became the subject of one of the unbuilt 1991 European City of Culture proposals. German environmental artist Dieter Magnus proposed an urban water garden, and the project was backed by the Goethe Institute, with the intention of raising private sponsorship to cover the costs. The project involved extensive community consultation, and the community rejected it.

The Blessington Street Basin was completely renovated in 1993-94 and reopened in November 1994. Today it is a walled park with a fountain and a bird sanctuary on its central island and it still gets its water from the Royal Canal.

Fortunately, there was a component of public art added to the basin after 1991 – Austin McQuinn’s Natural Histories sculptures are within niches along the north wall.

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