Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

Architect, of Dublin. James Shiel's origins are uncertain. The name James Shiel or Sheil was not uncommon in Dublin between 1750 and 1850;(1) the architect may perhaps have been a son of James Sheil, timber merchant, of 8 Bridgfoot Street, who is listed in Wilson's Dublin Directory for 1798.(2) He entered the Dublin Society's School of Drawing in Architecture on 6 February 1794 and was admitted a Freeman of the City of Dublin as a member of the Carpenters' Guild by virtue of service at Michaelmas 1806. It has been suggested that he worked in the office of FRANCIS JOHNSTON FRANCIS JOHNSTON (3) before setting up his own practice at 12 Great Britain Street in 1811 or 1812. He was active as an architect for over thirty years, making his last appearance in the directories in 1849.

Shiel's surviving signed designs are largely for country house work for the nobility and landed gentry of Leinster and protestant school houses. Beyond his architectural activity little is known of him. In a letter of 1842 to the 3rd Earl of Longford, who had decided to dispense with his services in favour of those of RICHARD MORRISON RICHARD MORRISON , he wondered whether he had been misrepresented to the earl as a political radical and assured him that he had 'never voted for any Gentleman of that Class'.(4)

The Irish Architectural Archive holds five signed drawings by Shiel, four from the Woodbrook collection (Acc. 77/26) and all dating from the early years of his career as follows: a design for alterations at Forenaughts, Co. Kildare, 1812 (Acc. 80/33 B1); proposals for a gate at Woodbrook, Co. Laois, 1812 (Acc.77/26.2/1) and for the enlargement of the house itself, post 1816 (Acc. 77/26.1/14); a finely drawn design for a proposed belfry and spire for Portarlington Church of Ireland church, 1812 (Acc. 77/26.7/3); a design for a school house for Jonathan Chetwood of Woodbrook, 1814 (Acc. 77/26.5/6).

Shiel was a subscriber to William Stitt's The Practical Architect's Ready Assistant; or Builder's Complete Companion (Dublin, 1819).

RIAI: council member, 1839-1845;(5)  secretary, 1942.

Addresses:(6) 121 Great Britain Street, 1812-13; 93 Baggot St Lower, 1815-1844;(7) 96 Baggot Street Lower, 1845-1849.

See WORKS.



References



(1) Five 'James Sheil's, including the architect, are listed in the Post Office Directoryfor 1844. Although Shiel sometimes appears in the directories as 'Sheil' he always signed himself 'Shiel'.
(2) The directory also lists a tanner named James Sheil in Dolphin's Barn, while an Alderman James Sheil was active in the city from circa 1772, when he was elected a sheriff until at least 1792, when he wrote his will.
(3) Christine Casey & Alistair Rowan, The Buildings of Ireland: North Leinster (1993), 55,58-60; the hypothesis, originally aired in Alistair Rowan's unpublished Ph.D. thesis on the Castle Style, is based on the fact that Shiel followed Johnston as architect at a number of houses. David Griffin has pointed out the close similarity of Shiel's Dowdstown to Johnston's Corbalton Hall.
(4) Letter from James Shiel, 1 Feb 1842, to Edward Michael, 3rd Earl of Longford in collection of Thomas Pakenham, Tullynally (photocopy in IAA, Jones file S52).
(5)   Account of inaugural meeting in Civil Engineer & Architect's Journal 2 (Oct 1839), 394; Jones transcripts from Pettigrew & Oulton's and Thom's directories.
(6) From Wilson's, Thom's and Pettigrew & Oulton's directories and Jones's transcripts from same.
(7) Wilson's Dublin Directory gives his address for 1837 as 27 Cook Street, which may be a mistake.


23 work entries listed in chronological order for SHIEL, JAMES


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Building: CO. KILDARE, FORENAGHTS (OR FORENAUGHTS)
Date: 1812
Nature: Proposed new entrance front, for John Wolfe.
Refs: Drawings of entrance front and side view, s. & d. Oct 1812 in Irish Architectural Archive, Forenaughts Collection, Acc. 80/33, B1

Building: CO. LAOIS, WOODBROOK (PORTARLINGTON)
Date: 1812
Nature: Proposed entrance gate, for Jonathan Chetwood.
Refs: Signed elevation, dated Nov 1812, in Irish Architectural Archive, Woodbrook Collection, Acc. 77/26.2/1

Building: CO. LAOIS, PORTARLINGTON, CHURCH OF ST PAUL OR 'FRENCH CHURCH' (CI)
Date: 1812
Nature: Proposed belfry and spire.
Refs: Drawing (sections), s. & d. May 1812, in Irish Architectural Archive, Woodbrook Collection, 77/26.7/3

Building: CO. LAOIS, WOODBROOK (PORTARLINGTON), SCHOOL
Date: 1812
Nature: Proposed school house for Jonathan Chetwood.
Refs: Signed elevations & plans, dated Jun 1814, in Irish Architectural Archive, Woodbrook Collection, Acc. 77/26.5/6

Building: CO. LAOIS, ARDEE, ENGLISH SCHOOL
Date: 1812
Nature: Designs for same, for William P. Ruxton, Esq.
Refs: Elevation & plans, signed and dated 1812 in Erasmus Smith Archives, Danum, Zion Rd, Dublin 6

Building: CO. CAVAN, BELTURBET, ENGLISH SCHOOL
Date: 1812
Nature: Designs for same, marked as approved.
Refs: Elevation & plans, estimate, modifications, signed and dated 1813 in Erasmus Smith Archives, Danum, Zion Rd, Dublin 6

Building: CO. KERRY, BLENNERVILLE, ENGLISH SCHOOL
Date: 1812
Nature: Designs for same, for Sir Rowland Blennerhassett, unsigned but attr. to Shiel on grounds of similarity to designs for Ardee School. Marked as approved.
Refs: Unsigned elevation & plans, dated 1812 in Erasmus Smith Archives, Danum, Zion Rd, Dublin 6

Building: CO. LOUTH, COLLON, ENGLISH SCHOOL
Date: 1812
Nature: Designs for same, perhaps attributable to JS on stylistic grounds.(Inscr. as approved.)
Refs: Unsigned elevations, plans, site map, dated 1812 in Erasmus Smith Archives, Danum, Zion Rd, Dublin 6

Building: CO. LAOIS, WOODBROOK (PORTARLINGTON)
Date: 1816p
Nature: Proposed additions, for Jonathan Chetwood.
Refs: Principal elevation of addition, signed, undated (paper watermarked 1816), in Irish Architectural Archive, Woodbrook Collection, 77/26.1/14)

Building: CO. WESTMEATH, MULLINGAR, COUNTY GAOL
Date: 1817;1820
Nature: Proposed bridewell, 1817. Proposed court house & gaol, 1820.
Refs: NA/SPO 570/494/21 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc.2008/44); plans, s. & d. Feb 1820 in Longford-Westmeath County Library, Mullingar (photographs in IAA);  letter from commissioners of Board of Works to William Gregory, Dublin Castle, enclosing report of Francis Johnston on plans and estimates for proposed courthouse and gaol, 10 Mar 1821, in NA CSO/RP/1821/1993 (report, 5 Mar 1821, is in CSO/RP/1821/1205).

Building: CO. WESTMEATH, MULLINGAR, BRIDEWELL & INFIRMARY
Date: 1818
Nature: Proposed new bridewell and infirmary building.
Refs: NA CSO/RP/1818/676.678. (formerly CSORP1818/W50 and CSORP1818/W53).

Building: CO. WICKLOW, INCHANAPPA
Date: 1819
Nature: Works at same.
Refs: 'notes on Cynthia O'Connor Gallery' (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc.2008/44)

Building: CO. WESTMEATH, MULLINGAR, COUNTY COURT HOUSE
Date: 1820
Nature: Proposed court house & gaol, 1820.
Refs: Plans, s. & d. Feb 1820 in Longford-Westmeath County Library, Mullingar (photographs in IAA) .

Building: CO. WESTMEATH, TULLYNALLY
Date: 1820-1835
Nature: Alts. & imps., gate lodge, for Thomas, 3rd Baron Longford.
Refs: Letter from James Shiel, 1 Feb 1842, to Edward Michael, 3rd Earl of Longford, and signed design for main gateway, in collection of Thomas Pakenham, Tullynally (photocopy of letter and photograph of drawing in IAA); Christine Casey & Alistair Rowan, The Buildings of Ireland: North Leinster (1993), 527,528, Pls. 89,90

Building: CO. MEATH, DOWDSTOWN (NAVAN)
Date: 1820;1834
Nature: Proposed improvements, for General Hon. Robert Taylour.
Refs: Drawings, s. & d. 1820 and 1834, in IAA (Acc. 2002/54)

Building: CO. MEATH, KILLEEN CASTLE
Date: 1840-42
Nature: Enlargement, for Arthur James, 9th Earl of Fingall.
Refs: Designs signed and dated 1840 in collection of A. Rowan, Dublin; Christine Casey & Alistair Rowan, The Buildings of Ireland: North Leinster (1993), 357; letter from James Shiel, 1 Feb 1842, to Edward Michael, 3rd Earl of Longford in collection of Thomas Pakenham, Tullynally (photocopy in IAA); Christine Casey & Alistair Rowan, The Buildings of Ireland: North Leinster (1993), 357

Building: CO. MEATH, DUNSANY CASTLE
Date: 1842a
Nature: Remodelling of house (including dining room and library), renewal of stables, farmyards, finished by Feb 1842. For 14th Baron Dunsany.
Refs: Letter from James Shiel, 1 Feb 1842, to Edward Michael, 3rd Earl of Longford in collection of Thomas Pakenham, Tullynally (photocopy in IAA); John Cornforth, 'Dunsany Castle, Co. Meath - II', Country Life 149, 3 Jun 1971, 1364(illus.),1365(illus.),1366; Christine Casey & Alistair Rowan, The Buildings of Ireland: North Leinster (1993), 280-281

Building: CO. DUBLIN, PALMERSTON, BROOKLAWN
Date: 1843
Nature: Alts.
Refs: Plaque on wall (information from L. Whiteside, archivist, King's Hospital)

Building: CO. MEATH, RATHALDRON CASTLE (NAVAN)
Date: ?
Nature: 'impressive castle-style gateway with high octagonal towers, possibly by James Shiel'
Refs: Christine Casey & Alistair Rowan, The Buildings of Ireland: North Leinster (1993), 432

Building: CO. LOUTH, DUNDALK, MARKET SQUARE, COUNTY COURT HOUSE
Date: ?
Nature: Plans for same? 'Mr Sheil' could not get security for Dundalk court house plans.
Refs: PRONI D562/12762 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc.2008/44)

Building: CO. WESTMEATH, KNOCKDRIN CASTLE
Date: ?
Nature: Attribution to JS suggested by Casey & Rowan. For Sir Richard Levinge, Bt.
Refs: Christine Casey & Alistair Rowan, The Buildings of Ireland: North Leinster (1993), 370-72

Building: CO. CAVAN, KILNACROTT
Date: ?
Nature: Tudor revival house attributed to JS by Williams.
Refs: J. Williams, Architecture in Ireland 1837-1921 (1994), 49(illus.); Mary Cecilia Lyons, Illustrated Incumbered Estates Ireland, 1850-1905 (1993), 7(illus.)

Building: CO. MEATH, ANNESBROOK
Date: ?
Nature: Possible attribution of Gothic library to JS on stylistic grounds.
Refs: E.McP files