Builder, engineer and architect, of Dublin and Birr, Co. Offaly. Bernard Mullins was born in 1772 into a family which had lived for many generations in Co. Offaly. He was the eldest of five sons of Michael Mullins; his mother, Ellenor, was a daughter of James Crosbie of Ballaghmyler, Co. Carlow. While still very young he was employed as an overseer by Grand Canal Company as development of the canal was continued into west Co. Kildare and Co. Offaly. At some stage after this he became a contractor and in about 1803 joined with DAVID HENRY to take over the contract for the stonework for the Shannon line of the Grand Canal. In about 1808 JOHN MCMAHON joined Henry and Mullins to tender for the restoration and extension of the County of Kildare Canal for the Grand Canal Company. The three men were awarded the contract for the work, and the partnership of HENRY, MULLINS & MCMAHON came into existence. For the next two decades the firm was to be the leading building contractor in Ireland, undertaking many important Government projects. It was formally dissolved in January 1827. Mullins became a director of the Royal Canal Company circa 1823, while his involvement with the Grand Canal lasted until as late as 1849, when he was asked to inspect a breach in the embankment between Tickevan and the Blundell Aqueduct and contract for its repair. He continued to run an office in Dublin until his death .
As well as having a house and an office in Dublin, Mullins owned property at Ballyegan (or Ballyeigan), near Birr, Co. Offaly, where he reclaimed thirty to forty acres of bogland in the early 1800s and built himself a handsome house circa 1834. He became a JP for Co. Offaly. St Brendan's Catholic church in Birr (1817) was built to his design as was the former school house.
Bernard Mullins died on 6 May 1851. He had married on 1 August 1807, Bridget Maria, daughter of Michael Hoey of Co. Westmeath. There were two sons and three daughters of the marriage. The elder son, MICHAEL BERNARD MULLINS , worked with his father as a civil engineer and architect. The younger, a midshipman in the Navy, died in 1828. The eldest daughter Catherine, married Michael Balfe of South Park, Co. Roscommon, as his second wife, but had no children; the second, Frances, married Francis Blake, second son of Sir Valentine John Blake of Menlough Castle, Co. Galway, by whom she had a son and a daughter; the third died unmarried. In 1852 JOSEPH ROBINSON KIRK exhibited bas relief heads of Bernard Mullins and his wife, 'part of a monument latterly executed in marble and erected in Dublin', at the RHA.
ICEI: committee member, 1842-1844; vice-president, 1845-48; council member, 1849.
RDS: member by 1845.
Addresses: Work: 9 Mabbot Street, <=1837 until death. Home: 2 Mountjoy Square W, 1820-24; 17 Fitzwilliam Square East, 1824; 1 Fitzwilliam Square North,1829-33; 1 Fitzwilliam Square South, 1834 until death; also Ballyegan House, Birr, Co. Offaly, from circa 1834 until death.
See WORKS, BIBLIOGRAPHY . See also works of HENRY, MULLINS & MCMAHON.
All information in this entry not otherwise accounted for is from the account of Mullins of Ballyeigan in Burke's Landed Gentry (1875), 959.
Ruth Delany, A Celebration of 250 years of Ireland's inland waterways (1986), 80; although Delany's account implies that Mullins was employed as an overseer for the first section of the canal, which was begun in 1783, it is hard to believe that he would have held such a position much before the age of 18.
Ruth Delany, The Grand Canal of Ireland (1973), 54.
Delany (1986), 83-84.
Peter Clarke, The Royal Canal: The Complete Story, (1992), 72.
See not 4, above.
Delany (1973), 178-9.
W.Nolan & T.P. O'Neill, eds., Offaly History & Society (1998), 931-2.
A working drawing for a cornice at Ballyegan on paper watermarked 1834 is in the IAA, Acc. 80/10.3; Lewis (1837) describes the house as a 'splendid residence'. The rough plan of a 'Villa for B. Mullen, Esqr' in the collection of Thomas Pakenham, Tullynally, does not resemble Ballyegan as built.
C. Cooke, The Picture of Parsonstown (1826), 176 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44).
Signed, undated plan and elevations in collection of Earl of Rosse, Birr Castle (photographs in IAA).
Jones transcripts from Thom's directories.
Jones transcript from Thom's Directory (1845).
From Wilson's, Post Office, and Thom's directories unless otherwise stated.
Pigot's Directory (1824).