Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

Civil engineer. Samuel Downing was born at Bagenalstown, Co. Carlow, on 19 July 1811, the son of the Rev. Samuel Downing, rector of Fenagh. After receiving his schooling at Kilkenny College, he entered Trinity College, Dublin, in 1829 and graduated with the BA degree in 1834. He then went to Edinburgh University to attend lectures in natural philosophy, which at that time included many engineering subjects. After working as a practising engineer on the construction of railways and viaducts in England and Wales, in 1847 he was appointed assistant to Sir JOHN MACNEILL JOHN MACNEILL , the first professor in the School of Engineering at Trinity College, Dublin, which had been established in 1842. In 1852 Downing suceeded MacNeill in the chair and held the post until his death on 21 April 1882. According to the obituary in the Minutes & Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers, his tenure of the chair was 'characterised by punctuality, patience and unwearied industry, in imparting…his varied stores of knowledge. It may be safely said that few men have passed so many years in any public institution and left behind him, both among students and colleagues, a memory so beloved…'

Downing published several books and papers on engineering subjects. As well as being active in the Insitution of Civil Engineers of Ireland, he was a member of the Committee of Science of the Royal Irish Academy from 1868-1871 and was also active in the Geological Society of Dublin during the 1850s and 60s as treasurer and council member.

Inst.CE: elected associate member, 2 March 1852.
ICEI: elected member, 1847;(1) council member, 1852-58,1872; vice-president, 1862-1868,1869-71, 1874-75; hon. treasurer, 1872.


All information in this entry not otherwise atributed is from the memoir of Downing in Min.Proc.Inst.CE 72 (1882-83, Pt. II), 310-311, and Jones's transcripts from Thom's directories.

(1) IB 12, 15 Aug 1870, 197.

Author Title Date Details
Downing, Samuel 'Description of the curved viaduct of Goed-re-coed…Taff Vale Railway' 1850 TICEI 4, Pt. 1 (1850), 23-33.
Downing, Samuel 'On a demonstrative model shewing the diagonal strains in wrought-iron girders' 1851 TICEI 4, Pt. 2 (1851), 57-64
Downing, Samuel Elements of Practical Hydraulics 1855 London (Dublin printed), 1855.
Downing, Samuel 'Professor Willis's apparatus for shewing the greater deflection of girders under rapidly passing loads' &c. 1855 TICEI 5 (1855), 38.
Downing, Samuel Elements of practical construction 1875 London, 1875.
Downing, Samuel Selection of specifications of public works ? ?