Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)

William Dargan


1799 - 1866

THE WILLIAM DARGAN STATUE, DUBLIN William Dargan, the son of a farmer, was born in Killeshin in the county of Laois on 28 February 1799, and having received an English education was placed in a surveyor's office.

Having become qualified in his chosen profession, working in a Dublin Surveyors office, Dargan went on to work in England. He was involved with George Stephenson's pioneering "Rocket" project and the construction of the London-Holyhead rail link lead by the great English engineer Thomas Telford.

The first important employment he obtained was under Thomas Telford in constructing the Holyhead road in 1820; when that work was finished he returned to Ireland and took small contracts on his own account, the most important of which was the road from Dublin to Howth.

When Dargan returned to Ireland, he obtained several small contracts on his own account. It was in 1834 that Dargan became contractor of the first railway in Ireland. This was the Dublin to Kingstown line.

In 1846 proposals were made for the construction of a second line to serve south Dublin. Dargan was again appointed engineer for this project. What finally materialised was the "Harcourt Street" line which opened on the 10th July, 1854, running from Dublin to Bray. It initially served stations at Dundrum, Stillorgan, Carrickmines and Shankill.

Dargan had many difficulties to contend with whilst building the line, including the major engineering problem of passing through a spur in the Dublin mountains. He solved this problem by making deep and difficult cutting into the spur. He was not only involved in the engineering of the line, but was also involved in the design of many of the line's stations. It is therefore not surprising to learn that Dundrum station, situated near to Dargan's estate at Mount Anville, was better designed and more comfortable than the other stations on the line. In the years following, Dargan was a regular commuter from the station!

William Dargan, was born in Killeshin 1799In an effort to draw attention to railways and their benefits to industry, Dargan organised and sponsored the Dublin Industrial Exhibition which took place at the Royal Dublin Society, Ballsbridge in 1853. This exhibition was officially opened by Queen Victoria. The royal party, which included Prince Albert and the Prince of Wales also paid a visit Dargan's estate at Mount Anville, Goatstown. It is understood that the Queen wished to confer a knighthood on Mr. Dargan in honour of his great contribution to engineering and railways. He declined the offer, however.

Around this time, Dargan, who was one of Ireland's richest men, made a generous donation of £40,000 which led to the setting up of the National Gallery of Ireland. A statue to commemorate him can still be seen today in front of the gallery.

He will be remembered for his friendship with the royal family but more importantly, for his reputation as railway engineer.

In 1866 he was injured in a horse riding accident. He died at the age of 68 and is buried at Glasnevin Cemetery.

Quotes by William Dargan

A spoonful of honey will catch more flies than a gallon of vinegar. ~ William Dargan, Quoted in Seventy Years of Irish Life (1896).

Never show your teeth unless you can bite. ~ William Dargan, Quoted in Seventy Years of Irish Life (1896).

Memorial plaque to William Dargan 1799-1867.
Famous Engineer and builder of Irish Railways.  Promoter of the Great Exhibition of 1853.
Born near Carlow Town.
Known for his generosity as; "The man with his hand in his pocket"
Erected by the Old Carlow Society on Heritage Day 12th Sept. 1993.

Luas Bridge at Taney Junction

by Tom Manning

July 2004

The award-winning cable-stay Luas bridge at Taney Junction was named “The William Dargan Bridge” on Monday July 19th by Fr. Daniel Dargan S.J. in the presence of the Minister for Transport, Mr. Seamus Brennan T.D. Fr.Dargan is a direct descendant of William Dargan (1799-1867) who is widely regarded as the father of Irish railways. Dargan was responsible for building the Harcourt Street Line which has now become the Luas Green Line. He lived nearby at Mount Anville and was a regular user of Dundrum Station. RPA accepted the recommendation of the selection committee - which was chaired by RPA Chief Architect Jim Quinlan - that naming the new bridge in honour of William Dargan would be a fitting tribute to the memory of a pioneer of public transport in Ireland. RPA Chief Executive, Frank Allen thanked all those who had contributed to the selection process and said that he was very proud that this giant of the Irish rail tradition would have a suitable monument to his memory in his home area of Dundrum. “I am particularly pleased that Fr. Daniel Dargan is here to open the bridge in the presence of the Minister of Transport”, said Mr. Allen.

Written by Tom Manning

Sources: From Wikipedia /

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