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Alcohol has periodically been regarded as a public health curse around the world. Two examples here from Cork in Ireland and from New York City illustrate some of the artefacts of the temperance movement in the 19th century.
In Cork, the Catholic priest, Father Mathew (1790–1856) attracted huge crowds to his temperance rallies and, when he moved to Liverpool, so great was his popularity that it was necessary to move to a larger church. Father Mathew is recognised by a statue in the centre of Cork.
In New York, wealthy San Francisco born dentist, businessman, and temperance crusader, Henry D Cogswell (1820–1900) proved as committed and energetic as Father Mathew. He campaigned tirelessly to promote the consumption of water rather than alcohol. Cogswell’s memorial is this Temperance Fountain, erected in Tomkins Square Park in New York City.
Surrounded by a simple, classical Doric columned, open temple structure—with a stepped, pyramidal stone pediment—the structure is topped by the classical figure of Hebe, a mythical Greek water carrier (sculptor: Albert Bertel Thorvaldsen c1770–1844).