Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

Monumental sculptor, of Dublin. Edmund Sharp, who was probably the son of Charles Sharp, a stonemason in Maidstone, Kent, and his wife Mary, and thus a brother of ALFRED PETER SHARP ALFRED PETER SHARP , was born in Maidstone in 1853   He was apprenticed to his brother, George Sharp, of Hastings, Sussex, and is recorded in the English census of 1871 as living at St Leonard's, Hastings. In 1873 he came to Dublin,(1) where he found work with PATRICK J. O'NEILL  PATRICK J. O'NEILL and JAMES PEARSE  JAMES PEARSE who were then in partnership. When O'Neill and Pearse went their separate ways about eighteen months later, Sharp became Pearse's foreman and, in about 1878, his partner. In 1888 he left Pearse to establish his own highly successful business at 180 Great Brunswick Street. About ten years later he moved his premises to the former Antient Concert Rooms at 42 Great Brunswick Street, which he equipped with the most up-to-date machinery and an in-house coal gas plant.(2) According to his obituary in the Irish Builder he 'was the first to introduce pneumatic and other modern machinery into the marble work's craft in Ireland'. Visitors to the works were shown Rosse's patent machine for carving figures and foliage, 'a most ingenious and effective apparatus worked by air pressure, and enabling the artist to get from 8,000 to 10,000 strokes per minute, as against about fifty by hand in the ordinary way'.(3) By 1904 he was completing altars at a rate of nearly one a week. An illustrated publicity booklet, produced in the 1920s (after Great Brunswick Street had been re-named Pearse Street) claimed that the works were the largest of their kind in Great Britain and Ireland and that over five hundred marble altars had been executed on the premises. The booklet contains a long - if somewhat confusing - list of Sharp's principal works, which include many in England, Scotland, America, Australia and South Africa.(4)

As the nineteenth century drew to its close, the employment of non-Irish architects and craftsmen for the design and decoration of Irish buildings was increasingly decried. In keeping with this trend, there was a reaction against the commissioning of carved marble pieces from Italian craftsmen for Catholic churches in Ireland. Sharp's workshop was seen as being able to produce carving of a higher quality at a lower cost. An editorial on 'Artistic Sculpture in Ireland' which appeared in the Irish Builder in 1902, was devoted to Sharp's activities, selecting his low relief of Leonardo's 'Last Supper', destined for the new church at Waterside, Derry, for special praise: 'The contrast between the artistic excellence of this work and the bulk of the foreign work introduced into the churches of the country is most marked. The work of the modern Italian workshops, at least the specimens sent to Ireland are as a rule, beneath contempt. In Mr Sharp's workshop may be seen work of real value, fom an artistic point of view.' The writer continues by describing how a sculptural group sent from Italy for Letterkenny cathedral was rejected by Bishop O'Donnell, who chose Sharp to carry out the work instead.(5) Sharp seems moreover to have been an efficient publicist. There is a description of his workshop in Stratten & Stratten's Dublin, Cork, and South of Ireland (1892),(6) while his booklet mentioned above reproduces enconiums from a variety of publications. The Waterside 'Last Supper' was displayed in a shop window in Dublin before it was despatched to Derry.(7) This work was carved by Sharp's chief sculptor at the time, PATRICK TOMLIN PATRICK TOMLIN , who was later succeeded by his nephew Charles E. Tomlin.(8)

Sharp died in a Dublin nursing home on 1 October 1930 and was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery two days later.  He had married his wife, Jane, in about 1879 but had no children. in According to his obituarist in the Irish Builder, he was a man of 'genial and pleasant disposition'. A member of the Architectural Association of Ireland from its revival in 1896 until his death, he participated regularly in its activities and excursions.(9) He travelled abroad once or twice each year, and had visited most European countries and Turkey. He was said to have been the author of a book entitled Our Altars, and How to Select Them.(10)

Edmund Sharp is not to be confused with the English architect and writer EDMUND SHARPE.& EDMUND SHARPE.& #160;  His Dublin contemporary ALFRED PETER SHARP ALFRED PETER SHARP , also had a workshop in Great Brunswick Street, and may, indeed have been his elder brother (see note 1), though Edmund was a Catholic and had a Catholic clientèle, while Alfred Peter was a member of the Church of Ireland and was patronised almost exclusively by Protestants.

AAI: member, 1896 until death.(11)

Addresses:(12) 27 Great Brunswick Street, >=1873-1888; 180 Great Brunswick Street, 1896; 42 Great Brunswick (later Pearse) Street, <=1900 until death.
Home: 14 Herbert Road, Sandymount, <=1896-until death. (13)

See WORKS and BIBLIOGRAPHY BIBLIOGRAPHY . For a more extensive list of Sharp's works and photographs of several of them, see the publicity brochure mentioned above (copy in IAA).



References

Information about Sharp's early life is taken from the article on him in IB 46, 18 Jun 1904, 372, which is illustrated with a portrait photograph. (The IB article in turn appears to be taken from an article in The Stone Trades Journal, see IB 46, 4 Jun 1904, 333.) All information about Sharp's later life is from his obituary in IB 72, 11 Oct 1930, 910. Another account is in Modern Ireland. Men of the Period (London [1900]), 104, which is accompanied by a portrait photograph.    Sharp appears prominently in a group photograph of members of the AAI circa 1900 reproduced in IB 69, 15 Oct 1927, 759.

(1) The obituary states that he came to Dublin from Birmingham with James Pearse, but if the date of his birth given correctly in IB 46, 18 Jun 1904, 372, and elsewhere, he would have been a child of only 7 when Pearse came to Dublin.  The information in the English census is not clear, but he may have been a younger brother of Alfred Peter (or Peter Alfred) Sharp, who was in Dublin by 1870. According to the Post Office Dublin Directory, Alfred Sharp and a sculptor named Edward (i.e. Edmund?) Sharp both had an address at 24 Wentworth Place in 1875.  
(2) This plant, supplied by Crossley Bros. of Manchester, supplied gas for the energy needs of the premises at only half the cost of town gas (IB, loc. cit., above).
(3) Extract from Men of the Period (Biographical London Publishing Co., 1899), quoted in Sharp's publicity booklet (1920s), 7.
(4) Copy in IAA; an earlier edition of this booklet is in the National Library of Ireland.
(5) IB 44, 27 Mar 1902, 1079.
(6) p.61.
(7) See note 5, above.
(8) Theo Snoddy, Dictionary of Irish Artists: 20th Century (1996), 498.
(9) His photographs of Speke Hall, Lancashire, taken on an AAI excursion in July 1912 were reproduced in IB 54, 31 Aug 1912, 500,502.
(10) There is no copy of this book in the National Library of Ireland.
(11) Lists of members in AAI Green Books.
(12) From Thom's and Post Office directories.
(13) Glasnevin Cemetery records.


39 work entries listed in chronological order for SHARP, EDMUND *


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Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, COLLEGE GREEN, NO. 034 (NATIONAL BANK)
Date: 1889
Nature: Sculpture  in tympanum, with James Pearse.
Refs: Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 413.

Building: CO. CORK, FERMOY, CHURCH OF ST PATRICK (RC)
Date: 1893a
Nature: 2 side altars and marble statues of Virgin and St Patrick. £513 paid for same, 7 Aug 1893 (Was it designed by Ashlin, who was paid £29 for fee and travelling expenses on same day?)
Refs: Parochial accounts of parish of Fermoy (information from Mgr James O'Brien, Buttevant, Co. Cork, Aug 2010).

Building: CO. LOUTH, DROGHEDA, WEST STREET, CHURCH OF ST PETER (RC, NEW)
Date: 1896
Nature: High altar of Carrara marble has been erected to designs by W.H. Byrne.
Refs: IB 38, 15 Jun 1896, 133

Building: ENGLAND, ALNWICK (NORTHUMBERLAND), CONVENT OF THE SISTERS OF MERCY (RC)
Date: 1897
Nature: High altar for convent chapel, designed by wALTER gLYNN dOOLIN.
Refs: Irish Times, 5 Jun 1897;  photograph inscribed 'High altar, Alnwick, Northumberland; W.G. Doolin, architect' in Album 1 of the Doolin, Butler & Donnelly file in IAA; Gearoid Crookes, 'The Career and Architectural Works of Walter G. Doolin (1850-1902)', unpublished M.A. thesis, University College Dublin, 1987, Fig. 2:1

Building: CO. WEXFORD, CASTLEBRIDGE, CHURCH (RC)
Date: 1898
Nature: 3 new marble altars, erected from bequest of William Clancy, Castlebridge.
Refs: Churches of the Diocese of Ferns (Booklink, 2004), 53.

Building: CO. GALWAY, LOUGHREA, CARMELITE ABBEY
Date: 1899
Nature: Sacred Heart altar, to designs by W.H. Byrne.
Refs: IAA, W.H. Byrne & Son drawings collection, Acc. 2006/142

Building: CO. SLIGO, SLIGO, CHAPEL HILL, ST PATRICK'S CONVENT OF MERCY
Date: 1899
Nature: Sacred heart altar and altar rail, 1899. Cost of altar, £125.
Refs: Designs, 1899, in IAA, W.H. Byrne & Son drawings collection, Acc. 2006/14;  Edmund Sharp's publicity booklet (1920s), 38  

Building: CO. TYRONE, OMAGH, CHURCH STREET, CHURCH OF THE SACRED HEART (RC)
Date: 1899a
Nature: High altar.
Refs: IB 41, 1 Jul 1899, 78

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, MARLBOROUGH STREET, ST MARY'S PRO-CATHEDRAL (RC)
Date: 1899p
Nature: Monument in form of marble aedicule to Col. Walter Balfe (d.1899).
Refs: Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 130.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, TEMPLE STREET NORTH, NO. 013-15 (CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL)
Date: 1900
Nature: Carrara marble high altar ('Our Lord healing the sick children') designed and executed by ES. Contract dated 1900.
Refs: E. Sharp's publicity booklet (1920s), 10,59(illus.); B of I

Building: CO. LOUTH, TULLYALLEN, CHURCH OF OUR LADY OF THE ASSUMPTION (RC)
Date: 1900-1905
Nature: High altar, classical, with 'Supper at Emmaus' in antipendium; side altars. All designed and executed by E. Sharp, Dublin, for Rev. F. Carolin, PP.
Refs: E. Sharp's publicity booklet (1920s), 32; Christine Casey & Alistair Rowan, The Buildings of Ireland: North Leinster (1993), 502

Building: CO. DERRY, DERRY, CHAPEL ROAD (WATERSIDE), CHURCH OF ST COLUMB (RC)
Date: 1901-1903
Nature: High altar, with carved representation of Leonardo's Last Supper, & reredos. Executed by ES to designs by G.C. Ashlin. Altar group carved by P. Tomlin.
Refs: IB 44, 27 Mar 1902, 1079(illus.)

Building: CO. ROSCOMMON, ROSCOMMON, ABBEY STREET, CHURCH OF THE SACRED HEART (RC)
Date: 1903
Nature: High altar, gift of Senor Margarita M. de Morgan, Buenos Ayres, Lady Altar, Pulpit & font designed by ES and 'executed by Irishmen'. For Monsignor Richard McLaughlin, PP.
Refs: Freeman's Journal, 25 May 1903 (quoted in E. Sharp's publicity brochure of 1920s, 76)

Building: CO. LIMERICK, LIMERICK, O'CONNELL AVENUE, CHURCH OF ST JOSEPH (RC)
Date: 1903
Nature: High altar designed and executed by Edmund Sharp..
Refs: Munster News, 9 May 1903, (quoted in E. Sharp's publicity brochure of 1920s, 74-75, which also shows illustrations of the altar))

Building: CO. CORK, COBH, CATHEDRAL OF ST COLMAN (RC)
Date: 1905
Nature: Baptistery rails.
Refs: Ann Wison, 'The Gothic Revival in Ireland:  St Colman's Cathedral, Cobh (1868-1916)', Antiphon: A Journal for Liturgical Renewal 11.2 (2007), 36(illus.).

Building: CO. DUBLIN, GLENCULLEN, CHURCH OF ST PATRICK (RC)
Date: 1909
Nature: Altar in new church.
Refs: Freeman's Journal, 26,28 Jun 1910.

Building: CO. LIMERICK, ABBEYFEALE, FATHER CASEY MEMORIAL
Date: 1910
Nature: ES winner of competition & his design duly executed in his workshops.
Refs: Freeman's Journal, 29 Jul 1910;  E. Sharp's publicity brochure of 1920s, 31(illus.),32

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, BAGGOT STREET LOWER, CONVENT OF SISTERS OF MERCY
Date: 1910ca
Nature: Sculpture in mortuary chapel. (Architect: W.H. Byrne.)
Refs: Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 564.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, BALSCADDEN, CHURCH (RC)
Date: 1913
Nature: Communion rails executed by ES, 1913. Cost: £126.
Refs: Clonliffe College Archive, MS p1/2

Building: CO. ROSCOMMON, LOUGHLYNN, CHURCH (RC)
Date: 1922
Nature: High altar with Last Supper relief on mensa frontal; free-standing clustered column stand for candelabra on either side of altar. Also throne?
Refs: Agreed design, signed and dated 1922, in IAA, W.H. Byrne & Son drawings collection, Acc. 2006/142.

Building: CO. MAYO, BALLINTUBBER, CHURCH (RC)
Date: ?
Nature: Altar ('The Adoration of the Host') and life-size statue of St Joseph designed and executed by E. Sharp, Dublin, for Fr. Reidy.
Refs: E. Sharp's publicity booklet (1920s), 42

Building: CO. TIPPERARY, BORRISOLEIGH, CHURCH (RC)
Date: ?
Nature: High altars, side altars, altar rails of Carrara marble with Venetian mosaics, mosaic chancel floor, baptismal font, holy water font &c., all designed and executed by ES, for Rev. Fr. Ryan, PP..
Refs: Edmund Sharp's publicity booklet (1920s), 40

Building: CO. MONAGHAN, MONAGHAN, BROAD ROAD, ST LOUIS CONVENT
Date: ?
Nature: Marble high altar ('Pieta') and 2 side altars designed and executed by ES.
Refs: E. Sharp's publicity booklet (1920s), 38

Building: CO. CAVAN, BELTURBET, CONVENT OF MERCY
Date: ?
Nature: Carrara marble high altar ('The Supper at Emmaus') designed and executed by ES.
Refs: Edmund Sharp's publicity booklet (1920s), 28

Building: CO. LIMERICK, MURROE, CHURCH OF OUR LADY OF THE HOLY ROSARY (RC)
Date: ?
Nature: Carrara marble high altar ('Cornonation of the Blessed Virgin Mary') designed and executed by ES for Very REv. Fr. Duan, PP, VG.
Refs: Edmund Sharp's publicity booklet (1920s), 40

Building: CO. KILDARE, RATHANGAN, CHURCH (RC)
Date: ?
Nature: Marble high altar and altar rails designed and executed by ES for Monsignor Murphy, PP.
Refs: Edmund Sharp's publicity booklet (1920s), 38

Building: CO. LOUTH, CASTLEBELLINGHAM, CHURCH (RC)
Date: ?
Nature: High altar in stone and marble ('Our Lord falling under the Cross') designed and executed by ES for Rev. Fr. Murray, PP.
Refs: Edmund Sharp's publicity booklet (1920s), 38

Building: CO. DONEGAL, CLONMANY, CHURCH OF ST MARY (RC)
Date: ?
Nature: High altar, side altar and altar rails designed and executed by ES for Rev. J. Maguire, PP..
Refs: Edmund Sharp's publicity booklet (1920s), 36

Building: CO. LEITRIM, CARRICK-ON-SHANNON, MARIST CONVENT
Date: ?
Nature: Statuary marble high altar designed and executed by ES.
Refs: Edmund Sharp's publicity booklet (1920s), 34

Building: CO. CARLOW, RATHVILLY, CHURCH OF ST PATRICK (RC)
Date: ?
Nature: Marble pulpit, font, statue of St Bridget, colossal limestone state of Our Lady of the Rosary, all designed and executed by ES for Monsignor Delany, PP.
Refs: E. Sharp's publicity booklet (1920s), 36

Building: CO. TIPPERARY, NENAGH, ST FLANNAN STREET, CHURCH OF ST MARY OF THE ROSARY (RC)
Date: ?
Nature: Carrara marble high altar replcating one at Coatbridge, Scotland ('The Last Supper', 'Nativity', 'Ascension'), side altar('Our Lady of Good Counsel'), altar rails, font, all designed and executed by ES, for Very Rev. Dean White, PP.
Refs: E. Sharp's publicity booklet (1920s), 32

Building: CO. DERRY, DERRY, LONG TOWER STREET, CHURCH OF ST COLUMBA (RC)
Date: ?
Nature: High altar with onyx shafts ('The death of St Columba'), 2 side altars, 2 pedestals (all Carrara marble) designed and executed by ES for Very Rev. W. Doherty.
Refs: E. Sharp's publicity booklet (1920s), 32,49(illus.),67(illus.)

Building: CO. KILDARE, NEWBRIDGE, CHURCH (RC)
Date: ?
Nature: Marble high altar ('Last Supper', 'Agony in the Garden', 'Scourging of Our Lord'), marble altar rails, marble chancel floor, all designed and executed by E. Sharp for Monsignor Tynan..
Refs: E. Sharp's publicity booklet (1920s), 32

Building: CO. LAOIS, STRADBALLY, CHURCH OF THE SACRED HEART (RC)
Date: ?
Nature: High altar, side altars, altar rails, statues, font (all marble) designed and executed by E. Sharp, Dublin, for Rev. M. Brennan
Refs: E. Sharp's publicity booklet (1920s), 32

Building: CO. CORK, CORK, GERALD GRIFFIN AVENUE, OUR LADY'S MOUNT NORTH MONASTERY SCHOOLS
Date: ?
Nature: 'On Lady's Mount School, the five styles of Classic Architecture, etc.' for Rev. Br. Burke.
Refs: E. Sharp publicity booklet (1920s), 54

Building: CO. LIMERICK, KILTEELY?, LUNDON MEMORIAL
Date: ?
Nature: ES winner of competition. 'Large memorial in limestone, with colossal figure of Erin and life size portrait of the late W. Lundon, MP.'
Refs: E.Sharp's publicity brocure (1920s), 2851(illus.)

Building: CO. KILKENNY, GOWRAN, STATUE
Date: ?
Nature: Life-size statue and pedestal, in marble. For J.P. Rice, Esq, Aberdeen.
Refs: E. Sharp's publicity brochure of 1920s, 36

Building: CO. LONGFORD, LONGFORD, ST MEL'S ROAD, CATHEDRAL OF ST MEL (RC)
Date: ?
Nature: Communion rail.
Refs: IB 35, 15 Apr 1893, 95; James MacNamee, History of the Diocese of Ardagh (1954), ?

Building: CO. MONAGHAN, MONAGHAN, PARK STREET, CHURCH OF ST JOSEPH (RC)
Date: ?
Nature: Marble altars by E. Sharp, Dublin.
Refs: E. Sharp's publicity booklet (1920s), 38;  Kevin V. Mulligan, The Buildings of Ireland: South Ulster (2013), 467.

Author Title Date Details
Sharp, Edmund Our Altars and how to select them
1900a
Sharp, Edmund 'Modern Irish Art' 1903 IB 45, 7 May 1903, 1728. (Letter to editor response to article by Robert Elliott in The Irish Rosary, May 1903.)