Sir Philip Crampton

Sir Philip Crampton

In Brief

As the funeral procession in Hades approaches the River Liffey from Great Brunswick (now Pearse) Street, crosses the river, and proceeds north along O'Connell Street, it passes by monumental statues of four great Irish leaders (Smith O'Brien, O'Connell, Gray, and Mathew), a "foundation stone" where the statue of a fifth great Irish leader (Parnell) was eventually to be erected, and the immense towering statue of a great English leader (Nelson). With a kind of faint retrospective comedy, these six majestic monuments are preceded by an unprepossessing one whose honoree seems to have passed out of collective memory. Bloom thinks, "Sir Philip Crampton's memorial fountain bust. Who was he?"

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Sir Philip was an Irish surgeon of the first half of the 19th century (1777-1858). He conducted a private practice but also worked at several hospitals in Dublin and founded a children's hospital to help treat poor children from the Liberties. His academic accomplishments were many: he taught anatomy in various capacities, wrote a treatise on the eyes of birds, and founded the Royal Zoological Society of Ireland, serving repeatedly as its president. He was a member of the Royal Irish Academy (a very prestigious learned society of academics), and a Fellow of the Royal Society (the even more highly prestigious London-based scientific society). He served three terms as president of the Dublin College of Surgeons.

In 1862 a fountain designed by sculptor John Kirk was erected in Crampton's honor in the middle of the circus formed by the intersection of Great Brunswick Street, College Street, and D'Olier Street, just south of the O'Connell bridge over the Liffey. The design was exceedingly odd: a heavy triangular stone plinth with water basins in the Roman fashion, surmounted by metal sculptures of large birds (reflecting Crampton's interest in the subject) and a bust of Sir Philip, with a metal flower-like stalk rising high above the bust. Dubliners derisively called it the "pineapple" or the "artichoke." It was removed in the 1950s because its pieces were coming apart (Yvonne Whelan, Reinventing Modern Dublin: Streetscape, Iconography, and the Politics of Identity, UCD Press, 2003).

In Lestrygonians, when Bloom is repulsed by the squalid conditions of the Burton restaurant, he thinks with distaste of the unhygienic conditions of communal eating arrangements like those he experienced in the City Arms hotel, and connects them with those water basins on the fountain: "Suppose that communal kitchen years to come perhaps. All trotting down with porringers and tommycans to be filled. Devour contents in the street.... My plate's empty. After you with our incorporated drinkingcup. Like sir Philip Crampton's fountain. Rub off the microbes with your handkerchief. Next chap rubs on a new batch with his."

JH 2015
The Crampton Memorial, in a photograph of unknown date.
Source: Wikimedia Commons.