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Dublin Collection

On Dublin's south side, Archbishop Ryan Park (Merrion Square) is an enclosed park in the elegent Georgian area of the city. A selection of the city's older street lighting columns, brackets and lanterns can be found scattered throughout the park. I only had limited time, and I'm not sure if I saw all the lamp posts, but here's a representative example.

This shot shows how the street lights are distributed around the park.

BTH Parish on BLEECO Brighton "C" bracket with BLEECO RB 136 gear box on cast iron column.

Several of these lamp posts are dotted around the park, two positioned at park entrances. It quickly becomes clear that Dublin's immediate street lighting history was with BTH and BLEECO.

Unfortunately most of the BTH Parish lanterns have lost their enamel over-reflectors.

BTH Parishes on double arm bracket on cast iron column.

Old pictures of Dublin suggest this street light was one positioned on O'Connell Street bridge. The column is tiny, probably standing between three and four meters high.

Both BTH Parish lanterns have lost their enamel over-reflectors.

Open refractor Group-A lantern on cast iron bracket and column

Given the lineage of the other lanterns in the park, I'd suggest this is a BLEECO lantern. The shape of the door in the column is also suggestive of BLEECO.

Open reflector Group-B lantern on cast iron bracket, A C Ford fuse box and cast iron column

I'm not able to identify this lantern or bracket at the moment. The fuse box is very distinctive though, and of course, had A C Ford cast onto the door. Another of these lanterns and brackets could be found further up the path.

Enclosed Group-A lantern on ornate cast iron bracket and cast iron column

Again, I'm unable to identify either lantern, bracket or column, but the lantern is very representative of designs from the 1920s-1930s. Additionally it's quite similar to many US lanterns from that period. I believe this could be a Holophane lantern, which would explain why it looks American. Or was it a fraternal gift from the US with strong Irish connections? Thanks to Pete Rivet for the idea.

BLEECO Open Type Conical lantern on BLEECO Brighton "C" bracket with BLEECO RB 136 fuse box on cast iron column.

The provenance of the top half of this lantern is clear. The cast iron column remains a mystery, but I suspect most were cast locally in Dublin's various foundries.

Copper open refractor lantern on ornate Irish bracket on cast iron column.

There are several of these lanterns on these ornate brackets scattered around the park. Additionally I saw several of these brackets around Dublin itself, but they were probably modern replicas, as I discovered a local lighting firm were selling them in their yard (picture below)

Modern reproduction lantern and bracket.

These are produced by Harte Outdoor Lighting (see their swan neck range).

The canopy of the modern reproduction lantern looks like it was modelled on the bulky BTH example.

I was especially pleased discovering these brackets, because they've given me the definitive way to deal with the Irish bracket in my collection (picture below)

Irish bracket and retrofitted Holophane Duo Dome from my collection. Needs restoring!

Open reflector Group-B lantern on BLEECO Brighton "C" bracket with BLEECO RB 136 fuse box on cast iron column

Back to Dublin, this example had an open refractor lantern. Again, identification is difficult, but I'd put money on it being a BLEECO.

Holophane Dublin lantern on cast-iron ornate bracket on cast iron column

Unfortunately, this particular combination probably never stood on Dublin's streets.

The column and bracket is still popular around the city, and they're gradually coming back as modern reproductions are being installed.

These Holophane Dublin Lanterns were installed in Dublin in 1938 by Mr F. X. Algar who was then head of the Lighting Section of the Irish Electricity Supply Board. (The lantern's name suggest it was custom designed for the city). Originally 1500W GLS (converted to 700W MBF/U in 1963), these lanterns originally lit O'Connell street mounted on superb double armed art-deco concrete columns (which were made in France by Sofrapel). The O'Connell installation was removed in 1973, whilst other examples managed to hang on into the 1980s and 1990s. Now only a handful remain, clustered around Dublin College.

This one hasn't survived well with its dimpled diffusing glass broken. Inside, the original refractor ring can still be seen.

When installed, they were cited as the best lighting in Dublin at that point. Twenty years later, Waldram was still holding them up as an excellent example of wide carriageway lighting.

They should install one of the last remain concrete examples in the park. That would certainly complete the collection.

But what happened to lanterns removed from the original O'Connell installation in 1973?

"My parents moved to Ireland (and drug me along) in 1968. Dad was an antique dealer who also opened the first truly authentic American Food restaurant in Dublin on St Stephens Green called "Cafe' Antiques". Nearby "Captain America" tries to claim they were the first, but "Cafe' Antiques" pre-dates them. It was a fast food style restaurant that had an antique mall in the rear dozen or so rooms and going up 3 stories tall. Anyway, I am getting way off track."

"Dad bought and sold antiques throughout Europe, packed containers in Greystones, Co. Wicklow, where we lived and he shipped them to the U.S. for auction. Before we moved to Ireland he also ran a very successful demolition company in St. Louis, Missouri, so we was quite used to dealing in salvage."

"Sometime in the early 70s if my memory serves, he suddenly started bringing home dozens of these old light fixtures from O'Connell street and I presume other neighboring streets. He said he had struck a deal with someone (I have long since forgotten who) to buy the entire lot, or as close to that as possible. He brought them back to our Greystones warehouse over the course of several weeks I recall. It seemed like there were 100s, but not really sure of the count. But there were masses. Dad, being quite the entrepreneur (which was the reason we ended up in Ireland in the first place) had a vision for the lights. He did several things. 1) For some of the lights, he had custom bases made for them and had electrical sockets and wiring installed so as to enable these lights to be used as decorative yard lighting. 2) The rest he removed the top and I think connected it to the bottom somehow to serve as a steady base, but still using the original parts, then he had marble cut to fit the top thereby turning it into a patio table. These too had an internal socket, bulb and switch assembly that illuminated the light."

"I remember several dealers fro Spain coming to our warehouse to meet Dad, and after they left I recall Dad saying that they purchased almost all, if not all, of the lights. And within a month or so they were all off to Spain save for two we kept (see attached photo). We now have just the one. I think my Dad sold the other without telling me prior to his passing."

"So I suspect these like are sprinkled around Spain in the courtyards of some rich folk. These were not the standard yard lights you get at your local hardware store! We still have the one that resides here in an outbuilding on our property in central Virginia where it's been since the late 70s. I may sell it someday as it's charm has worn off through the years. Not sure at this point, but all the glass is intact but I even found some extra glass panes that dad had stashed away. Anyway, it's a great conversation piece and still holds cocktails quite well."

Bob Breckenkamp
3rd April 2020

Also spotted in Dublin were these two BTH Urban Enclosed lanterns near the docks, opposite The Point concert venue.