Dumfries and Galloway Council had the pleasure of welcoming Mr. Kesera Senanayake, the esteemed Mayor of Kandy, Sri Lanka, on Tuesday, 2 August. As part of his holiday in Scotland with his family, Mayor Senanayake made a stopover in Dumfries, accepting an invitation from local retired schoolteachers, Jill and Nick Riley.
This visit was set in motion during Jill and Nick’s trip to Sri Lanka in 2022 when their friend, Dumfries Fountain campaigner, Kirsten Scott, suggested that they reach out to Mayor Senanayake. They presented him with a letter, sharing the fascinating story of our twin fountains. The Mayor had no prior knowledge of the Scottish connection that our fountains share – both crafted in the Sun Foundry, Glasgow, and sharing many identical features.
Provost of Dumfries, Maureen Johnstone, welcomed the guests at Municipal Chambers then conducted a guided tour of Dumfries town centre for Mayor Senanayake, showcasing many historic landmarks and, of course, the beautifully restored Dumfries Fountain.
Provost Johnstone expressed her delight, saying: “Dumfries and Galloway shares many links with Sri Lanka, one being our twin fountain in Kandy. It was an honour to show the Mayor, his family, and his hosts some of our town’s wonderful historical landmarks, especially our newly renovated fountain.”
Mayor of Kandy Kesera Senanayake added: “It has been an honour to receive such a warm welcome by our new friends here in Dumfries. Our countries have many historical connections and it is a privilege to play a part in strengthening these bonds between us. We have thoroughly enjoyed our visit and the hospitality extended to my family and myself. We are bonded to the town and look forward to future cooperation and a lasting friendship.”
The visit provided a wonderful opportunity for the two towns to foster lasting friendships and celebrate shared heritage, along with exploring historical connections between Dumfries and Sri Lanka. Notably, Sir Alexander Johnson, born and laid to rest at Carnsalloch, played a crucial role in the abolition of slavery in Sri Lanka. Additionally, thanks to the contributions of Scotsman James Taylor, who introduced tea to Sri Lanka in 1860, many Sri Lankan tea plantations carry names inspired by Scottish towns, including our very own Sanquhar.
The town of Kandy
Kandy is a city in the Central Province of Sri Lanka. The population of Kandy is approximately 160,000. Many major corporations have large branch offices in Kandy and many industries including textiles, Sri Lankan gemstones, furniture, information technology, and jewellery are found there. Many agriculture research centres are located throughout the city.
The Kandy Fountain
The Prince of Wales Fountain was erected by the Coffee Planters of Ceylon (now known as Sri Lanka) in commemoration of the visit of H.R.H. the Prince of Wales, Prince Edward VII, to Kandy, December 1875.
In 2013,”The Coffee Flower Fountain” as it is affectionately known, underwent some renovation of its own after the cherubs and storks which adorn the fountain, were damaged by elephants during the Esala Perahera Festival, also known as The Festival of the Tooth. The festival held in July and August is a historical procession held annually to pay homage to the Sacred Tooth Relic of Buddha, which is housed at the Sri Dalada Maligawa in Kandy.