Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

Canal surveyor and engineer. James Oates, whose origns are not known,(1) was was employed on the construction of the Grand Canal and the Barrow and Nore Navigations in the 1780s and 1790s. He is recorded as one of the three assistants to RICHARD EVANS  RICHARD EVANS who were left in charge of the construction of a still-water canal from Monasterevin to Athy, Co. Kildare, when Evans was dismissed by the directors of the Grand Canal Company in December 1789. The following year Oates was transferred by the company to work on the circular line in Dublin. In 1796 he surveyed the line of a canal from Kilkenny to the Barrow. With JOHN KILLALY JOHN KILLALY , he surveyed one of the possible lines by which the Grand Canal, which reached Tullamore in 1799, could be continued to the Shannon. This scheme, which ended at Athlone, was at first favoured by the company, but eventually rejected in favour of a line to Banagher via Birr. In 1821 a partnership of canal surveyors named Oates & Killaly - presumably James Oates and John Killaly - was in practice in Charlemont Street, Dublin.(2) JOHN PLANT GAYNOR  JOHN PLANT GAYNOR was a draughtsman in their office.(3)

Drawings by James Oates for bridges on the Shannon line between Lowtown and Banagher, dated 1792, are in the National Library of Ireland.(4)


All information in this entry not otherwise accounted for is from V.T. H. & D.R. Delany, The Canals of the South of Ireland (1966), 47,132,142, and R. Delany, Ireland's Inland Waterways (1988), 81.

(1) The name was quite commons in Ireland and England. Howard Colvin, A Biographical dictionary of British architects 1600-1840 (3rd edn., 1995), 712, in his entry for John Oates, states that a family named Oates was long resident in the Halifax area.
(2) Sarah Bendall, ed., Dictionary of Land Surveyors and Local Map-Makers of Great Britain and Ireland 1530-1850 (2nd edition, 1997), II, 382, identifies the partners as James Oates and John Killaly.
(3) Bendell, loc. cit.
(4) Ref. These drawings are from the Henry, Mullins & McMahon Collection, formerly belonging to ICEI, which were dispersed at auction in 1965.