Fountain of the Three Fates

Title: Three Fates Fountain
Artist: Professor Josef Wackerle
Location: St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin
Medium: Bronze
Date: 1956

The Three Fates Fountain was a gift to the Irish from the German Federal Republic. Its purpose was to show their thanks for the help and generosity the Irish offered the German people after World War II during times of intense distress and hardship. The Irish put forth great efforts to help German refugees after World War II focusing mostly on helping German children. They did this mainly through Operation Shamrock and the “Save the German Children Society” Following World War II Dr Kathleen Murphy founded the “Save the German Children Society” with the aim of inviting traumatize German Children to Ireland to help them recover from the nightmares they witnessed during the war. However, the Irish government didn’t want to be seen as “saving German blood,” as Europe was still reeling from the extent of the Nazi horrors, so they quickly handed the program off to the Irish Red Cross. In 1946, the Irish Red Cross formally asked the Allied Control Council for 100 children to be sent to Ireland from Germany. Despite reservations the Allied Control Council approved the mission of mercy in May of 1946 and on the 27th of July the first wave of children refugees arrived in Dun Laoghaire financed by the Irish Red Cross. Within a year of the mission being approved 462 German children between ages 3 and 10 were living throughout Ireland. By 1949 most of the children had returned home to their families in Germany, with about 50 choosing to stay in Ireland with their foster families. The German government was so thankful that they commissioned Professor Josef Wackerle to design a fountain to be sent to the Irish to show their appreciation.

The Design:

The sculpture consists of a group of three bronze figures from Norse mythology, representing the Three Fates, Urd (past), Verdandi (present) and Skuld (future). In Norse mythology these three female figures are known as norns, who rule the destiny of Gods and men. Around the fountain are three plaques. Each plaque says “This fountain, designed by the sculptor Josef Wackerle, is the gift of the people of the German Federal Republic to mark their gratitude for Ireland’s help after the war of 1939-45. The bronze group portrays the three legendary fates spinning and measuring the thread of man’s destiny.” One is in English, the second is in Gaelic, and the third is in German.

The Story:

The three fates of norns in Norse mythology are responsible for creating time and determining every living being’s fate. No matter whether a being is a god or a man the norns visit each being at birth and decide their fate. The norns live near the base of the world tree, Yggdrasil, next to a well called the Well of Fate. Every morning they come out of the cave they spend their night in, then scoop up water and mix it with the sand around the tree to create magic dough. They spread it on Yggdrasil to prevent it from become rotten and preserve the life spirit of the tree. Because the norns are sometimes to be considered higher than the gods the German government thought that this fountain depicting the three norns would be appropriate in demonstrating their thanks to the Irish.



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