Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

Engineer and architect. Samuel Ussher Roberts, a great-grandson of JOHN ROBERTS [1]  JOHN ROBERTS [1] and the son of Edward Roberts, solicitor and JP, of Weston, Co. Waterford, by his wife Martha, née Ussher, was born on 21 May 1821. He attended school in England at Burney's Royal Academy, Gosport. After serving a pupilage under 'Mr Kearney', presumably THOMAS KEARNEY THOMAS KEARNEY , county surveyor for the East Riding of Co. Limerick, he spent two years working on his own account in Waterford, Carrick-on-Suir and Dungarvan. He entered the service of the Board of Public Works in 1841 as a temporary drawing clerk under JACOB OWEN. JACOB OWEN. . In 1844 he was appointed a district surveyor for the Ardee, Glyde and Fane drainage districts in Cos. Louth, Meath and Monaghan, and given charge of extensive arterial drainage works.   His report on the drainage of the Wilkinstown district in Co. Meath, was published in Dublin in 1847.   In 1848 he was transferred to Co. Galway as district engineer with responsibility for the Loughs Corrib, Mask and Carra drainage district. The works, on which about £200,000 were spent, included the completion of the Eglinton Canal from the port of Galway to Lough Corrib, the improvement of the navigation of Lough Corrib, of the mill power of the River Corrib at Galway and of the Galway salmon fishery. After the completion of these works, Roberts acted as the Board's consulting and inspecting engineer for important drainage schemes all over Ireland.

In August 1855 Roberts was appointed surveyor for Galway city, and in March 1857 deputy county surveyor for the West Riding of Co. Galway on account of the failing health of HENRY CLEMENTS HENRY CLEMENTS ,(1) whom he succeeded in 1858.(2)    He was also engineer to the Galway Harbour Commissioners and the Lough Corrib Drainage and Navigation Trustees  as well as running his own private practice as an engineer and architect.  He remained in Galway until November 1873, when he moved to Dublin to take up the post of Assistant Commissioner of Public Works.(3)  He was promoted to Commissioner in 1878 and retired in 1886. After his retirement he resumed private practice.  In 1891 he became consulting engineer and architect to the Board of Control of Lunatic Asylums. He also worked for the Congested Districts Board.

Roberts was created a Companion of the Order of the Bath in 1887. 'Bright and active' until the last few days of his life, he died in Dublin after a short illness on 11 January 1900. He was buried at John's Hill cemetery, Waterford, and is commemorated by a plaque in the French Church. He was survived by his wife, Emily Isabella (d.1907), elder daughter of Sir George Foster, Bt, of Coolderry, Co. Monaghan, whom he had married in 1847(4) and by whom he had a son and three daughters. A vice-president of the Royal Dublin Society and member of the committee of agriculture, he was actively involved in the Dublin Horse Show, both as an organiser and a judge; his brief obituary in the Irish Builder describes him as 'one of the best judges of a horse in Ireland'. After his death some of his friends presented the Society with the Samuel Ussher Roberts Perpetual Cup, which is awarded in the lightweight hunter class.(5)

Roberts's pupils and assistants included RICHARD LANGRISHE RICHARD LANGRISHE , ROBERT MANNING ROBERT MANNING , SAMUEL WILLIAM NUGENT SAMUEL WILLIAM NUGENT , RICHARD NEWMAN SOMERVILLE  RICHARD NEWMAN SOMERVILLE and EDWARD WALLER STONEY. EDWARD WALLER STONEY.

ICEI: member by 1847;(5) council member, 1855;(6) no longer on list of members for 1870.(7)
Inst.CE: elected member, 1854.
RIAI: may have applied for membership, 1863.(8)
RSAI:(9) elected member, 1889; fellow, 1891.

Addresses:(10) Breakwater, Galway, 1858; Barfield, Galway, <=1862(11)-1873; 6 Burlington Road, Dublin, <=1875->=1883; 6 Clyde Road, <=1893-8; 5 Pembroke Street Upper at time of death.(12)

See WORKS and BIBLIOGRAPHY BIBLIOGRAPHY



References

All information in this entry not otherwise referencedis from Brendan O'Donoghue, The Irish County Surveyors 1834-1944 (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2007), 287-291, which gives the fullest account of Roberts's career, from the obituary of Roberts in Min.Proc.Inst.CE 140 (1899-1900, Pt. 2), 279-281, from the briefer obituary in IB 42, 1 Feb 1900, 263 (reproduced with minor modifications in Building News 78., 2 Feb 1900, 158), and from the Roberts family tree in William J. Bayly, 'The Roberts family of Waterford', Journal of the Waterford and South East of Ireland Archaeological Society 2 (1896), 99ff.

(1)
Galway Vindicator, 18 Mar 1857 (B.O'D.).
(2)
Thom's Directory (1863), 1096.
(3)
IB 15, 15 Oct 1873, 276; he took up his new post on 17 Nov (Jones transcript from OPW records).
(4)
Cork Examiner, 14 May 1847.
(5)
TICEI 3 (1847-49), 1.
(6)
Jones transcript from Thom's Directory(1855) in Jones file R42.
(7)
IB 12, 15 Aug 1870, 197.
(8)
Jones transcript from RIAI council meeting minutes, 8 May 1863, 6, in Jones file R42 reads: 'The case of S.U. Roberts, C. Tarrant, and J.B. Farrell [all county surveyors] was postponed for general meeting to be held on 21st instant'; the only other mention of Roberts is in the minutes is in 1894 when the council resolved to ask him to receive a deputation to discuss the question of fees (council meeting minutes, 5 Mar 1894, 310).
(9)
JRSAI 24 (1894), list of members.
(10)
Information from Thom's and Post Office directories unless otherwise attributed. (131 DB 4, 1 Apr 1862, 74.
(12)
Dublin Evening Mail, 12 Jan 1900.


40 work entries listed in chronological order for ROBERTS, SAMUEL USSHER


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Building: CO. GALWAY, GALWAY, EGLINTON CANAL
Date: 1848-1852
Nature: SUR in charge of completion of same. Designed by John McMahon. Opened by Earl of Eglinton, 1852.
Refs: Obituary of Roberts in Min.Proc.Inst.CE 140 (1899-1900, Pt. 2), 280; R.C. Cox & M.H. Gould, Civil Engineering Heritage: Ireland (1998), 222-3(illus.)

Building: CO. GALWAY, GALWAY, WEST BRIDGE (NEW)
Date: 1851
Nature: FS laid 1851. Contractor: Patrick Nugent. Damaged in heavy currents in winter of 1852-53. (Bridge replaced one built in 1818-1819, which in turn replaced on of 1342)
Refs: B 9, 7,21 Jun 1851, 360,393; B 11, 5 Feb 1853, 90

Building: CO. GALWAY, GALWAY, RIVER CORRIB IMPROVEMENTS
Date: 1851-52ca
Nature: Works 'resulting in the recovery and improvement of flooded lands, the opening up of navitation from the sea to the Lough, and the vast increase and improvement inthe mill power of Galway'. For Board of Works.
Refs: B 9, 3 May 1851, 281; 10, 21 Aug 1852, 537; DB 4, 1 Apr 1862, 73

Building: CO. GALWAY, GALWAY, HARBOUR
Date: 1860;1863-64
Nature: Improvements & preparation of facilities for transatlantic packets, including reconstruction of pier & graving dock, sheds &c.
Refs: DB 2, 1 Jan 1860, 186; 5, 1,15 Feb,15 Jun,1 Oct 1863, 17,29,106,165; 6, 1 May 1864, 87

Building: CO. WATERFORD, ROCKETTS CASTLE (PORTLAW)
Date: 1861
Nature: Works at same. For Rev. John Thomas Medlycott. Estimated cost of Cockburn & Sons' tender, £4,500.
Refs: IAA, PKS A03 (Jun 1861, p.40v)

Building: CO. GALWAY, GALWAY, SEA ROAD, CHURCH OF ST IGNATIUS (RC, JESUIT)
Date: 1861-63
Nature: Gothic cruciform church attached to Jesuit College. To cost about £3,500. Skeleton and roof completed by Feb 1863. Dedicated 31 Jul 1863. Builders: Semple & Nugent, Galway.
Refs: DB 4, 1,15 Apr 1862, 73-74,103; 5, 1 Feb,15 Aug 1863, 17,141; B 21, 15 Aug 1863, 583;  Tom May, Churches of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora (Galway, 2000), 92-93(illus.).

Building: CO. GALWAY, GALWAY, TAYLOR'S HILL ROAD, IRISH CHURCH MISSIONS SOCIETY SCHOOL
Date: 1862
Nature: Gothic. Rubble masonry walls in alternate courses of granite and local marble. Single storey with 2-storey portion. To cost about £1,100. Builder: Semple.
Refs: DB 4, 1 Apr 1862, 74

Building: CO. GALWAY, GALWAY, SALTHILL ROAD, LENABOY
Date: 1862
Nature: New house for Captain O'Hara. Cost: £3,500. Contractor: Semple & Patrick Nugent.
Refs: DB 4, 1,15 Apr 1862, 74,103

Building: CO. GALWAY, LOUGHREA, TOWN HALL
Date: 1862
Nature: For Marquess of Clanricarde on site of old Linen Hall, Barrack St. Builder: Henry Stone, Eyrecourt (£1,500). Market on lower floor, assembly rooms on upper floor.
Refs: DB 4, 15 Mar,15 May 1862, 69,128; 5, 1 Apr 1863, 63

Building: CO. WATERFORD, GURTEEN LE POER
Date: 1862-1866
Nature: New house n course of erection, 1863; completed 1866. For Edmond Le Poer. Contractor: Thomas Henry Carroll, Baggot St, Dublin. To cost about £10,000. Completion expected in two years.
Refs: IAA, PKS B02/20, A03 (Aug-Nov 1862, pp.52v,91v,92v.), L1 (p.469,544-5,547,549,569 &c.); DB 5, 1 Jun 1863, 115(illus.); 8, 15 Jul 1866, 185

Building: CO. GALWAY, GALWAY, WATERWORKS
Date: 1862-63
Nature: Proposed waterworks.
Refs: DB 4, 15 Dec 1862, 326; 5, 1 Feb 1863, 17

Building: CO. GALWAY, ROCKBARTON, BARFIELD
Date: 1862a
Nature: 'Mr Roberts has provided for his own purposes a handsome dwelling at Rockbarton - in the Italian style and known as "Barfield" - which for tasteful design at least will not suffer by comparison with the domiciles of his clients'.
Refs: DB 4, 1 Apr 1862, 74

Building: CO. GALWAY, GALWAY, GAOL ROAD, COUNTY GAOL
Date: 1862p
Nature: Alterations; adaptation to the separate system of confinement. Plans prepared by SUR.
Refs: B 17, 17 Sep 1859, 615; DB 4, 1 Apr 1862, 73; plan of city and county gaols, signed by SR and dated May 1866 in Galway Public Library, see M. Kavanagh, Bibliography of Co. Galway, 150.

Building: CO. GALWAY, GALWAY, SEA ROAD, JESUIT COLLEGE
Date: 1862p
Nature: Being erected in Apr 1862. Unpretentious 80ft frontage.
Refs: DB 4, 1 Apr 1862, 73-74

Building: CO. GALWAY, GALWAY, NEWCASTLE ROAD, UNION WORKHOUSE
Date: 1863
Nature: Dispensary and lying-in hospital proposed to be erected under superintendence of SUR. Tender of: John J. Brady, Galway. for £1058 acccepted.
Refs: DB 5, 1 Sep 1863, 147

Building: CO. GALWAY, GALWAY, HEADFORD ROAD
Date: 1863
Nature: Road to Headford in progress under superintendence of SUR.
Refs: DB 5, 15 May 1863, 86

Building: CO. GALWAY, GALWAY, ROAD
Date: 1863
Nature: Road 'in the line of the proposed breakwater' in progress under superintendence of SUR.
Refs: DB 5, 15 May 1863, 86-7

Building: CO. GALWAY, GALWAY, GRATTAN ROAD
Date: 1863
Nature: New road from Claddagh Quay to beach at Fairhill progressing under direction of SUR; '400 men are employed thereon who would otherwise be starving, or inmates of the workhouse'.
Refs: DB 5, 1 Mar 1863, 43

Building: CO. GALWAY, ATHENRY, HOUSE
Date: 1863
Nature: Italian villa to be built for J.J. Lopdell. Contractor: Glynn & Hollins, Galway. Cost: £1,000.
Refs: DB 5, 15 Feb 1863, 33

Building: CO. GALWAY, DUNSANDLE (ATHENRY)
Date: 1863
Nature: Gate lodge & entrance gates being erected for Lord Dunsandle. Contractor: O'Brien, Loughrea. Cost: about £550.
Refs: DB 5, 1 Mar 1863, 43

Building: CO. MAYO, BALLYCROY, GLEBE HOUSE
Date: 1863
Nature: New glebe house being erected. Contractor: Glanville.
Refs: DB 5, 1 Feb 1863, 17

Building: CO. GALWAY, CLONBUR, GLEBE HOUSE
Date: 1863
Nature: New glebe house in Elizabethan style 'at present constructing', for Rev. J. O'Callaghan. Contractor: Connack, Cong.
Refs: DB 5, 15 May 1863, 86

Building: CO. GALWAY, BALLYNAHINCH, CLUB & HOTEL
Date: 1863
Nature: New Tudor Gothic club house, hotel and 4 lodges to be erected. Club house to cost about £5,000. Contractor: Brady, jr.
Refs: IAA, PKS A03 (Dec 1862, Feb, Mar 1863, pp.52v, 53); DB 4, 1 Oct 1862, 254; 5, 1 Feb 1863, 17

Building: CO. TIPPERARY, KILTINANE CASTLE
Date: 1864
Nature: Proposed new porch and staircase. For J. Cooke.
Refs: IAA, PKS B02/38

Building: CO. GALWAY, GALWAY, SALTHILL ROAD, MOUNT VERNON
Date: 1864
Nature: New house for T.M. Persse. Granite with limestone dressings. Cost: £4,000. Builders: Semple & Nugent.
Refs: DB 4, 1 Apr 1864, 74

Building: CO. WATERFORD, PORTLAW, WOODLOCK
Date: 1865
Nature: Proposed add. to house of George Pim Malcomson. Architect: S.U. Roberts. Also lodge?
Refs: IAA, PKS L1 (p.844-5.848,863,869)

Building: CO. GALWAY, GALWAY, MARKET STREET, CHURCH OF ST NICHOLAS (CI)
Date: 1866
Nature: Proposed improvements..
Refs: Drawings in RCB Library, portfolio 26

Building: CO. WEXFORD, NEW ROSS, BRIDGE
Date: 1868-1869
Nature: Free lattice girder bridge between New Ross & Rosbercon, replacing old wooden bridge which was partly destroyed in Jan 1867. Designed by J.B Ferrell with S.U. Roberts & Peter Burtchaell. Contractor: Kinnaird Bros., Leeds? Opened to traffic, Aug 1869.
Refs: Henry Nathan Maynard, 'The New Ross Bridge' in Minutes of Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers 32 (1870-71), 146-151, Pl. 12.

Building: CO. GALWAY, KYLEMORE CASTLE
Date: 1868-1875;1878-
Nature: With J.F. Fuller. Builder: Thomas H. Carroll (d.1868). Plastering: James Hogan & Sons.
Refs: IAA, PKS B05/07, B06/07, A03 (Jul 1868, p.85v);  Freeman's Journal, 6 Nov 1875;   IB 44, 14 Aug 1902, 1351; 45, 24 Sep 1903, 1987; J.F. Fuller, 'Reminiscences of Fifty Years', IB Jubilee Number 1909, 24; J.F. Fuller, Omniana (1916), 183; Mark Bence-Jones, Burke’s Guide to Country Houses. Volume I, Ireland. (London, 1978), 180(illus.)

Building: CO. KILKENNY, VIEWMOUNT (PAULSTOWN)
Date: 1870
Nature: Alts. & imps., for Henry Flood.
Refs: IAA, PKS B05/14, A03 (Jun 1870, p.81v)

Building: CO. KILKENNY, KILKENNY, ST JOHN'S BRIDGE
Date: 1870a-1872
Nature: Proposed new iron bridge to replace that of 1767, consisting of three semi-elliptical arches resting on stone piers and abutments. With Peter Burtchaell. Presentment falls through, 1872, suitable tender for metal bridge not having been obtained.
Refs: Tenders invited for taking down old bridge and rebuilding, General Advertiser, 10 Feb 1866; IB 12, 1 Dec 1870, 288; 13, 1 Aug, 1 Sep 1871, 193,230; 14, 15 Jul 1872, 194

Building: CO. MAYO, ASHFORD CASTLE (CONG)
Date: 1872-74
Nature: Works at same. Builder: John Semple.
Refs: IAA, PKS 0627, B06/26

Building: CO. GALWAY, GALWAY, SEWERAGE
Date: 1873ca
Nature: Plans for same.
Refs: Galway Vindicator, 12 Nov 1873 (information from Brendan O'Donoghue)

Building: CO. WATERFORD, CURRAGHMORE
Date: 1873p
Nature: 'accommodation vastly improved by present, 5th Marquis, under direction of Mr Samuel Roberts (arch)' (Egan); Girouard dates remodelling to 1870s (following 2nd marriage in 1874?) Contractor: Sibthorpe. Estimated cost: £3,216.
Refs: IAA, PKS B06/11, A06 (Mar 1873);  P.M. Egan, History, guide and directory of county and city of Waterford [1895], 694;  Mark Girouard, 'Curraghmore, Co. Waterford'. Country Life 133, 21 Feb 1963,371

Building: CO. WATERFORD, FAITHLEGG HOUSE
Date: 1873p
Nature: Addition of extra storey and wings, for Patrick Joseph Mahon Power. Attributed to SUR by Julian Walton.
Refs: Advertisement for tenders, IB 15, 15 Jul 1873; Mark Bence-Jones, Burke's Guide to Country Houses. Volume I, Ireland. (London, 1978), 123(illus.); Julian Walton, 'On this day: Wednesday 11 January', text of broadcast on local radio WLR FM (information from Brendan O'Donoghue)

Building: CO. MAYO, BALLINROBE, CREAGH HOUSE
Date: 1874-75
Nature: Captain Knox, DL, erecting 'beautiful manor house to the right of the French chateau lately occupied by his predecessor'. Oblong with large square tower in centre. Approaching completion; 'estimate cannot fall short of £10,000 or £11,000 including terraces and approaches'. Contr: Semple, Galway. Subject of arbitration, Semple v. Knox, Oct-Nov 1876.
Refs: IAA, PKS B06a/35, B07/12; IB 17, 1 Jan 1875, 5

Building: CO. KERRY, KILLARNEY, ROCK ROAD, DISTRICT LUNATIC ASYLUM
Date: 1875
Nature: Add. to female wing, &c. Estimated cost £7,607.
Refs: IAA, PKS B06a/14, B06a/16, A06 (Jun 1875)

Building: CO. KERRY, KILLARNEY, ROCK ROAD, DISTRICT LUNATIC ASYLUM
Date: 1877
Nature: Fresh provision for 100 patients and new dining hall commenced to plans by Board of Control's architect. Estimated cost c. £10,000.
Refs: IB 19, 1 Feb 1877, 43 (quoting 25th Report…on Lunatic Asylums)

Building: CO. DONEGAL, LETTERMACWARD, BRIDGE OVER GWEEBARRA ESTUARY
Date: 1893-96
Nature: 9-span lattice girder bridge on screw pile piers over Gweebarra estuary with approach roads, for Congested Districts Board.. Tenders invited 1894. In progress, 1896. Work supervised by J. Golding. Contractors: Phoenix Foundry, Derby, ironwork;. Edward Clarke, N approach; Doherty, S approach.
Refs: Drawings dated 1893, in NLI, AD 3386,3341+(a); IB 36, 15 Jun,1 Aug 1894, 138,181; 38, 15 Jun 1896, 133

Building: CO. TIPPERARY, CLONMEL, WESTERN ROAD, DISTRICT LUNATIC ASYLUM
Date: 1897
Nature: SUR supervises erection of 'temporary' new block (known as 'Red Buildling').Wood with corrugated iron roof.  Erected by Mssrs. Humphreys of London. Contract price: £1700.
Refs: Eamonn Lonergan, St Luke's Hospital, Clonmel,1834-1984 (1984?), 37-38.

Author Title Date Details
Roberts, Samuel Ussher 'Description of the means adopted for unwatering works of river drainage' 1849 TICEI 3 (1847-1849), 1-8.
Roberts, Samuel Ussher 'An account of an iron breast wheel…recently erected at the Newcastle Distillery, in Galway' 1851 TICEI 4, Pt. 2 (1850-51), 53-54.