‘Dandy Pat’ Byrne Fountain – another loss to our heritage.
Morning Star, Scotland Place c.1900
Patrick Byrne Fountain before removal, 1971
Patrick Byrne Fountain after removal to Pownall Square, 1973
In my last post, I bemoaned the apparent loss of the aluminium statue that once graced the Palais de Luxe in Lime Street. It might not have been a masterpiece but its disappearance is in keeping with the loss of a number of statues and ornaments that could have been saved with a more respectful approach. The single greatest loss is the sculpture by Charles Cockerell that once filled the tympanum on St George’s Hall. In their lack of wisdom, the Council decided it was unsafe and had it removed and, scandalously turned into hardcore. Another loss was the fine basalt pillar that once graced the entry to the Mersey Tunnel. Fortunately, the pillar at Birkenhead survives.
The fountain to Patrick Byrne does survive in a very much reduced form in the graveyard of St Anthony’s Church in Scotland Road. The base was rescued and turned into a memorial, although the handsome pillars were lost in the 1970s. Dandy Pat deserves much better – and his story is an essential part of Liverpool’s Irish heritage. His relatively short life (1845-1890) was full on achievement. Arriving penniless in Liverpool from County Wexford at the age of 17, he found work on the docks. Saving any spare money, he bought his way into the licensed trade, soon owning the lavish Morning Star public house in Scotland Place. His sobriquet, Dandy Pat, was in recognition of his smart and somewhat ostentatious dress sense.
A shrewd businessman, he was also a strong figurehead for his community, becoming an Irish Nationalist councillor for one of the two Scotland wards in Liverpool. He was a constant fighter against injustice and a benefactor to many Catholic charities. The fountain was erected from public donations and it is a sad reflection of the lack of care for his contribution to Liverpool that this important monument was treated with such a lack of respect. There is precious little to show of that great wave of Irish immigration that changed the character of Liverpool so fundamentally. I worked on an Irish Heritage trail some years ago – but it was eventually abandoned because so much of it had been destroyed, such as the birthplace of James Larkin, a revered figure in contemporary Irish history), or the original wash-house built for Kitty Wilkinson in Upper Frederick Street.
It’s all too late now but what a draw an Irish heritage trail would have been as part of the tourist mix. There really is a lack of imagination in the corridors of power.
Really interesting article Colin, I must confess to having known none of the details of the Irish monuments until your Thread.So much heritage lost forever.
Some nice pic's there Colin,but,as is often the case in Liverpool,one minute it's there.....then it's gone! The mosaic, near the entrance to the Mersey tunnel was one,which I think it ended up in someone's back garden! I think this has now been restored/replaced,but I'm not sure! As for evidence of the irish presence around scotty rd,etc,there's now,not much trace of that!(or anything else,come to think of it!)
Liverpool's first Irish community of the modern era appears to have been around Vauxhall Road and Marybone. Probably the reason why Irish people settled in this area was because the earlier arrivals (before 1775) would have noticed a local landmark called St. Patrick's Cross on the crossroads where Vauxhall Road and Marybone meet. St. Patrick's Cross was the greatest loss of our Liverpool Irish heritage it most likely dates from the later middle ages and has a connection to Liverpool's Irish Sea trade links. In the middle ages Liverpool freemen were made freemen of Waterford & Wexford. Likewise the freemen of these Irish towns were considered freemen of Liverpool.
My husband Tommy can remember as a kid playing with his mates around this fountain, also the Morning Star.
There were public toilets by the fountain.
Came fourth...now what?
As with the London Wall Trough in the link below there are weeds growing in the trough down the road from me.
Go into web archive on the home page then scroll down to Holy Cross.
Mike Kelly has done a great book on the Irish in Liverpool and the Hannah May Thom statue, once in Standish street and now in the grounds of Mazenod Court in the Holy Cross district has been well looked after.
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