The original centrepiece, which according to Christine Casey comprised a stone shell mounted on a plinth, with a life-size Coade stone water nymph with its arm resting on the water conduit (doesn’t it sound just spectacularly vulgar), was also not reinstated - understandably so if there is insufficient documentary evidence to cast a new one, not to mention in the interests of taste and decency.
It took a bit of rooting - voila! An aquatint by J. G. Stadler.
Beat this Oldbridge Concrete. Our water nymph in all her glory.
The water conduit takes the form of her urn on its side. Even in late Georgian Dublin, I cannot imagine a sitting target like this would last very long...
The fountain appears to have been well used by service staff in the area. Even by the 1790s, many of the most prestigous houses had no running water, with records of water carts delivering water to basement tanks in Fitzwilliam Square as late as 1815. Even if one had a tank, it's quite likely fresh drinking water may still have been sought from the fountain on a daily basis.
It is also of interest that the water appears to continually flow from the fountain with no stopcock, presumably into a grating set in the platform.
This was a waste of valuable water at a time when there were major misgivings over the common Dublin practice of allowing water to continually flow unhindered into houses, particularly in the older quarters of the city. An open pipe would pour into a tank with an overflow into the nearest drain, thus wasting vast volumes of water - far more than was ever used. The practice was finally outlawed in the early 19th century through a mandatory adoption of ballcocks. In the case of the Rutland Fountain, perhaps the water was only turned on for a few hours in the morning...
The beautifully detailed original railings of Merrion Square are also apparent, of a quality similar to those of the Irish Architectural Archive, as are the ranks of elegant globe oil lamps with neoclassical swags.
It is perhaps one of the defining features of Georgian Dublin that not a single 18th century public lamp remains in the city today, and precious few surviving on private homes and public buildings. It is consolidated by not a single effort anywhere to reinstate any in an informed way. St. George's Church is a solitary exception. Edinburgh recently reinstated a host of the lamps as seen above along the reproduction railings of Prince's Street, where they work to beautiful effect.