Selected: MACNEILL, JOHN BENJAMIN (SIR)


Born: 1793c
Died: 1880


Engineer. John Macneill, a son of Torquil P. Macneill of Mount Pleasant, Co. Louth, was born in, or about, 1793 at Mount Pleasant. Originally destined for a career in the Army, he served in the Louth Militia from 1811 to 1815 before deciding to train instead as an engineer. He became a pupil and then an assistant of THOMAS TELFORD  THOMAS TELFORD and worked in England and Scotland until 1836 or 1837, when he was recruited by the Irish Railway Commissioners to survey and lay out a railway system in the north of Ireland. Soon afterwards he became engineer to the Dublin, Carlow & Kilkenny Railway and in about 1840 engineer to the Dublin & Drogheda Railway. On the opening of the latter on 24 May 1844, he was awarded a knighthood.(1) Other railways for which MacNeill was engineer during the next three decades were the Dublin & Belfast Junction Railway from Drogheda to Portadown with a branch to Navan, the Dundalk & Enniskillen Railway, the Cork, Blackrock & Passsage Railway, the Wexford, Carlow & Dublin Junction Railway,(2) the Great Southern & Western Railway, the Irish South Eastern Railway, the Dublin & Bray Railway, the Dublin, Dundrum & Rathfarnham Railway, the Dublin & Meath Railway, the Monaghan to Clones line of the Ulster Railway, the Belfast & County Down Railway, the Downpatrick, Dundrum & Newcastle Railway, and the Belfast Central Railway. In addition to his railway work, MacNeill was engaged on the reclamation of slob land in Loughs Foyle and Swilly and in the bays and estuaries of Cos. Wexford and Waterford. He was also engineer for the Belfast waterworks at Cave Hill, which were completed in 1843. In 1842 he was elected Professor of Civil Engineering in the newly founded Faculty of Engineering at Trinity College, Dublin, a post which he held until 1852. Among his achievements was the introduction of iron lattice bridges to the United Kingdom with his bridge over the Royal Canal for the Dublin & Drogheda Railway.

Towards the end of his life Macneill became financially embarrassed, largely on account of his involvement both as an employee and as a shareholder in a number of failed railway companies. He went to live in England, first in Surbiton and then in London. He became blind and destitute, eking out an existence by making matchboxes in the single room where he lodged. He died in London on 2 March 1880. He was married and had three sons, John, Torquil and TELFORD MACNEILL TELFORD MACNEILL , and two daughters. At least three of his children predeceased him.

Macneill's pupils and assistants included SAMPSON MOORE COOPER SAMPSON MOORE COOPER , ROBERT ROWAN GREENE ROBERT ROWAN GREENE , GEORGE WILLOUGHBY HEMANS GEORGE WILLOUGHBY HEMANS , WILLIAM RICHARD LE FANU WILLIAM RICHARD LE FANU , WILLIAM LEWIS WILLIAM LEWIS , ALEXANDER SCHAW ALEXANDER SCHAW , FRANCIS GERALD MORONEY STONEY  FRANCIS GERALD MORONEY STONEY and JOHN LESLIE WORRALL.& JOHN LESLIE WORRALL.& nbsp;

ICEI: council member, 1848,(3) but no longer on list of members for 1849.
Inst.CE: elected associate, 30 January 1827; transferred to member, 8 February 1831.
RIA: elected member, 1831.(4)

Addresses: Mount Pleasant, Dundalk; 28 Rutland Square North, <=1847->=1849; 7 Kensington Square, London, 1875; Cromwell Road, London, at time of death.

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References
All information in this entry is from the biography of Macneill in the DNB, his obituary in Min.Proc.Inst.CE 73 (1882-3), Pt. III, 361-367, a letter from John P. Doyle, 'The last days of Sir John MacNeill', published in IB 29, 15 Aug 1887, 235, Thom's directories and Jones's transcripts therefrom. Both the biography and the obituary give further details of Macneill's career. A brief biography is in IB 22, 15 Mar 1880, 85. A photograph of MacNeill is in R.C. Cox & M.H. Gould, Civil Engineering Heritage: Ireland (1998), 72.

(1) 'Annals of Dublin' (unpaginated) in Pettigrew & Oulton's Dublin Almanack (1847).
(2) B 2, 23 Nov 1844, 587.
(3) Jones transcript from Thom's Directory (1848), ?.
(4) Thom's Directory (1847), 279.

17 work entries listed in chronological order for MACNEILL, JOHN BENJAMIN (SIR)


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Building: CO. DUBLIN, MALAHIDE, VIADUCT (1840S)
Date: 1840s
Nature: Timber viaduct with masonry abutments for Dublin & Drogheda Railway Co., therefore presumably designed by Sir John Macneill. Embankments in place by 1843.  Drawn by Frederick Brodie in 1847. Replaced in 1860.
Refs: Model in IAA, Acc. 2009/128;  drawing in Frederick Brodie notebook, 1847, in PRO (Kew), RAIL 1057/3476 (part of drawing repr. in Oliver Doyle, 'Malahide - 1',  Journal of the Irish Railway Record Society  142, 430-431);  Oliver Doyle, 'Malahide - 2',  Journal of the Irish Railway Record Society 143, 462-3,492-3(illus.).

Building: CO. DUBLIN, MALAHIDE, VIADUCT (1840S)
Date: 1840s
Nature: Timber viaduct with masonry abutments for Dublin & Drogheda Railway Co., therefore presumably designed by Sir John Macneill. Embankments in place by 1843.  Drawn by Frederick Brodie in 1847. Replaced in 1860.
Refs: Model in IAA, Acc. 2009/128;  drawing in Frederick Brodie notebook, 1847, in PRO (Kew), RAIL 1057/3476 (part of drawing repr. in Oliver Doyle, 'Malahide - 1',  Journal of the Irish Railway Record Society  142, 430-431);  Oliver Doyle, 'Malahide - 2',  Journal of the Irish Railway Record Society 143, 462-3,492-3(illus.).

Building: CO. DUBLIN, MALAHIDE, VIADUCT (1840S)
Date: 1840s
Nature: Timber viaduct with masonry abutments for Dublin & Drogheda Railway Co., therefore presumably designed by Sir John Macneill. Embankments in place by 1843.  Drawn by Frederick Brodie in 1847. Replaced in 1860.
Refs: Model in IAA, Acc. 2009/128;  drawing in Frederick Brodie notebook, 1847, in PRO (Kew), RAIL 1057/3476 (part of drawing repr. in Oliver Doyle, 'Malahide - 1',  Journal of the Irish Railway Record Society  142, 430-431);  Oliver Doyle, 'Malahide - 2',  Journal of the Irish Railway Record Society 143, 462-3,492-3(illus.).

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, SHERIFF STREET, RAILWAY BRIDGE
Date: 1843
Nature: For Dublin & Drogheda Railway Co.?
Refs: Plan & elevation, s. & d. 1843, in NA/PRO Wide Streets Commissioners maps (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc.2008/44)

Building: CO. DUBLIN, BALBRIGGAN, RAILWAY VIADUCT
Date: 1843-44
Nature: For Dublin & Drogheda Railway. Contractor: William Dargan.
Refs: R.C. Cox & M.H. Gould, Civil Engineering Heritage: Ireland (1998), 74(illus.)

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, KILLESTER, BRIDGE
Date: 1844
Nature: 'Occupation'(?) bridge over railway. Span 84 ft. For Dublin & Drogheda Railway Co. (Demolished.)
Refs: J. D'Alton, History of Drogheda (1844), pl. lxxiv.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, FAIRVIEW, RAIL BRIDGE
Date: 1844ca
Nature: Skewed masonry rail bridge, for Dublin & Drogheda Railway..
Refs: R.C. Cox & M.H. Gould, Civil Engineering Heritage: Ireland (1998), 36-37

Building: CO. KILDARE, MONASTEREVIN, RAILWAY VIADUCT
Date: 1846-47
Nature: New viaduct for Great Southern & Western Railway, nearly 500ft long, consisting of malleable iron framework resting on ten slight stone piers. FS laid, 19 Feb 1846. Opened Feb (or Mar?) 1847. Constructed by Sir John Macneill.
Refs: B 4, 24 Mar 1846, 136; 5, 6 Mar 1847, 113

Building: CO. CORK, CORK, RAILWAY TUNNEL
Date: 1847-1854p
Nature: ¾ mile tunneljfrom Blackpool to railway terminus on Lr Glanmire Rd. Contractor: William Dargan. For Great Southern & Western Railway Co. Work begun with sinking of ventilation shafts, Aug 1847. Headings met under Cork Barracks, July 29th 1854, and a few days later chairman, some directors, secretary and engineer of GSWR walked full length of it. Rails not yet laid at this time.
Refs: Cork Examiner, 23 Aug 1847,7 Aug 1854 (information from Roger Herlihy, Cork, Oct,Dec 2010);  Holly Bough (Cork Examiner,1955), 5;  R.C. Cox & M.H. Gould, Civil Engineering Heritage: Ireland (1998), 256-7;  Colin Rynne, The Industrial Archaeology of Cork City and its Environs  (1999), 209 (information from Roger Herlihy, Cork, Oct 2010).

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, KINGSBRIDGE, RAILWAY STATION (GREAT SOUTHERN & WESTERN RAILWAY TERMINUS)
Date: 1848
Nature: Large train shed at rear.
Refs: R.C. Cox & M.H. Gould, Civil Engineering Heritage: Ireland (1998),33-35(illus.);  Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 687-8.

Building: CO. ARMAGH, CRAIGMORE VIADUCT (MULLAGHGLASS)
Date: 1849-1852
Nature: 'Egyptian'. Contractor: Killen & Moore. For Dundalk & Belfast Junction Railway Co.
Refs: B 8, 7 Sep 1850, 424-5; 9, 8 Mar 1851, 152; 10, 3 Apr.18 Sep 1852, 219,599; R.C. Cox & M.H. Gould, Civil Engineering Heritage: Ireland (1998), 173-4(illus.)

Building: CO. CORK, MALLOW, RAILWAY VIADUCT
Date: 1849ca
Nature: Over River Blackwater, for Great Southern & Western Railway Co.
Refs: Tourist's Illustrated Handbook for Ireland (1854), 63

Building: CO. LOUTH, DROGHEDA, BOYNE VIADUCT
Date: 1851-55
Nature: New lattice-girder bridge for Dublin & Drogheda Railway Co. JMcN chief engineer.  Lattice girders suggested by JMcN but bridge actually designed by James Barton. Resident engineers 'Mr Burdon', James Barton and Alex Schaw. Contractor: William Evans, Cambridge, who went bankrupt. Subsequently built by railway co. itself under direction of Bindon Blood Stoney.
Refs: Armagh Guardian, 28 Jun 1851;  Tourist's Illustrated Handbook for Ireland (1854), 203; Civil Engineer & Architect's Journal 19 (Aug 1856). 263-4; B 16, 1 May 1858, 292; DB 5, 1 Aug 1863, 127;  John Macneill, The Boyne Viaduct: Its History (1860) (NLI pamphlet P.1576(ii);   G.B. Howden, 'Reconstruction of the Boyne Viaduct, Drogheda', TICEI 60 (1933-34), 71-111; R.C. Cox & M.H. Gould, Civil Engineering Heritage: Ireland (1998), 75-76

Building: CO. MONAGHAN, MONAGHAN, RAILWAY STATION
Date: 1860-1863
Nature: New railway station on Armagh-Monaghan extension line for Ulster Railway Co. (replacing(?) station built 1858 for same company in townland of Coolshannagh).  Site proposed by JM, 1860. Station itself, apparently also designed by JM, opened, 2 Mar 1863.
Refs: Signed plans and section of site, dated .1860 (section dated 6 Oct 1860) in Monaghan County Museum,  see Bronagh Traynor, Monaghan Railway Station Conservation Report (Applied Building Repair and Conservation, Faculty of Engineering, Trinity College Dublin, 2008), 36-40,69-71(illus.) (Copy in IAA, ABRC/2008.16.)

Building: CO. ARMAGH, PORTADOWN, RAILWAY STATION (ULSTER RAILWAY)
Date: 1861-62
Nature: Replacement for station of c. 1845 to be erected for about £13,000.. Contractor: James McCracken.
Refs: B 19, 20 Jul 1861, 495

Building: CO. LOUTH, MOUNT PLEASANT (DUNDALK)
Date: ?
Nature: Adds. to family home, for himself. May have consulted J.S. Mulvany.
Refs: Mark Bence-Jones, Burke’s Guide to Country Houses. Volume I, Ireland. (London, 1978), 216; Frederick O'Dwyer, 'The architecture of John Skipton Mulvany', Irish Architectural and Decorative Studies 3 (2000), 41

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, ROYAL CANAL RAIL BRIDGE
Date: ?
Nature: Lattice girder bridge for Dublin & Drogheda Railway..
Refs: R.C. Cox & M.H. Gould, Civil Engineering Heritage: Ireland (1998), 73

Author Title Date Details
Macneill, John The Boyne Bridge: Its History 1860 1860 (NLI pamphlet P.1576).