Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

Architectural draughtsman and building overseer. Michael Shanahan the younger, a son of MICHAEL SHANAHAN[1] MICHAEL SHANAHAN[1] , was probably born about 1780, when his father was still based at Downhill, Co. Derry; he is described as a young man of 22 or 23 in a letter written by Major Charles Holloway, Officer Commanding Royal Engineers, Spike Island, Co. Cork, to Lieutenant General Morse, Inspector General of Fortifications, on 28 December 1803.(1) In this letter Holloway asks for Morse's approval to appoint Shanahan as a draughtsman and overseer for works on various fortifications in Co. Cork. Holloway describes Shanahan as 'Son to an Architect of considerable note in this Country', who 'has been brought up to the business himself' and 'says he understands the Theory and Execution of Building, Mathematics and Drawing'. The letter continues: 'pay is not an object to him, as his father is a rich man, and I am convinced he would come for Five Shilllings a day‚Ķhe gave me the inclosed Elevation as a Specimen of his Drawing and said he superintended the building of it; he was educated at the same school with Lt Cunningham, his name is Shanahan, a particular friend of General Vallancy's'. The drawing enclosed with the letter is an elevation of Ballyscullion, Co. Derry, under construction from 1787 until about 1803; it would therefore appear that Michael Shanahan the younger acted as supervisor on his father's behalf as soon as he was old enough to do so. Michael Shanahan is recorded as having been commissioned Ensign in the Royal Staff Corps in 1803 and promoted to the rank of Captain after serving in the Peninsula in 1813.(2) He must have left the Army soon afterwards, if he is the person of the same name who was clerk of works for the building of New Birmingham, Co. Tipperary, for Sir Vere Hunt circa 1814.(3) 



References



(1) PRO WO 55/831.
(2) Information from Mr. S.G.P. Ward, Haslemere, but if the appontment was made in response to the letter, the date should surely be 1804. According to Ward, the Royal Staff Corps was a newly raised corps of field engineers who were answerable to the Commander's military staff unlike the Royal Engineers who were under the command of the Board of Ordnance. See his Wellington's Headquarters (Clarendon Press, 1957).
(3) Diary of Sir Vere Hunt, NLI microfilm P 5527, 5528 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44). 


2 work entries listed in chronological order for SHANAHAN, MICHAEL [2]


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Building: CO. DERRY, BALLYSCULLION HOUSE
Date: 1786-1803
Nature: MS[2] supervises latter stages of works at same
Refs: PRO WO 55/831

Building: CO. TIPPERARY, NEW BIRMINGHAM
Date: 1814ca
Nature: 'Michael Shanahan' clerk of works - i.e. Michael Shanahan, jr?
Refs: Diary of Sir Vere Hunt, NLI microfilms Pos. 5527, 5528 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc.2008/44)