Civil engineer and architect, of Dublin. Joseph Berry, who, according to the 1911 census, was born in Rathfarnham circa 1861, obtained an engineering diploma from the Royal College of Science and served a regular pupilage with JOHN C. BOWER which he completed in 1883. He was subsequently resident engineer on the Deep Water Quay at Elswick-on-Tyne. After working on a water supply scheme for Tinahely, Co. Wicklow, he was appointed engineer and architect to the sanitary authorities of Drogheda, Co. Louth, Shillelagh and Rathdrum, Co. Wicklow, Balrothery, Co. Dublin, and Naas, Co. Kildare, with responsibility for carrying out works under the Public Health Act (1878), the Dispensary Houses Act (1879) and the Labourers' Act (1883). The Drogheda Board of Guardians appointed him to design and supervise the erection of labourers' cottages in 1886 but became increasingly disturbed by his failure to supervise his buildings; in 1889 the board members discovered that he had gone off to the Paris Exhibition without informing them and asked PATRICK JOSEPH DODD to report on the work in progress. Dodd's report was highly critical, and Berry was asked to produce his own report in response to Dodd's allegations. Relations between Berry and the board continued to deteriorate until in 1891 Berry reliquished the position at his own suggestion. He gave up his position as engineer to the Shillelagh and Rathdrum Union in the same year, when he was succeeded by JOHN JAMES OCTAVIUS RAMSAY. At about the same time he was appointed town surveyor to Kingstown Urban District Coucil, a post which he held for thirty-five years. Of his achievements at Kingstown, his obituarist in the Irish Builder writes: 'All the slum clearances and the earlier housing schemes were supervised by him. But his chief work was the wonderful improvements to the sea front, which have been going on for thirty years, and to his taste, skill and judgement are due the works which have transformed the sea front and made it…the finest in Ireland…In particular, the contrivance of the rock gardens running down to the sea, and the last work, the fine Marine road, a magnificent boulevard connecting Kingstown with Sandycove…In the design and construction of the shelters along the sea, Mr. Berry was in advance of his time in the intelligent and logical use of concrete direct from the forms, without stucco or mouldings of any sort, the marks of the shuttering being judiciously disposed, a method subsequently adopted in the Wembley Exhibition buildings. Had Mr Berry had greater monetary resources at his command there can be no doubt that his architectural conceptions in the lay-out of the sea front would have been on a grander scale.' The obituary in the Irish Times similarly observed: 'He was an architect of fine artistic feeling, the expression of which was cramped on many occasions by the practical limitations of urban finance.'
Berry died on 24 April 1925 aged sixty-four and was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery. In character, according to his obituarist in the Irish Times, he was of a 'most amiable disposition, courteous to all with whom his official duties brought him into contact'. He was also well known as a philologist with a deep interest in the Celtic and Cymric languages. The 1911 census records him as unmarried His pupils and assistants included EDWARD S. O'BRIEN.
ICEI: elected member, 5 Mar 1890.
Addresses: Work: 67 Mountjoy Square, <=1887-1890>=; Town Hall, Dun Laoghaire, 1896-1922.
Home: 1 Otranto Place, Sandycove, 1895-1900; 13 Clarinda Park West, Dun Laoghaire, <=1907 until death.
All information in this entry not otherwise accounted for is from ICEI membership applications, III, 1, and from the obituaries of Berry in TICEI 51 (1924-1925), 258, Irish Times, 28 Apr 1925.and IB 67, 2 May 1925, 345.
P.J. Geraghty, 'P.J. Dodd of Drogheda, Architect and Civil Engineer', in Journal of the Old Drogheda Society No. 9 (1994), 27,30. He subsequently brought an action agains the Shillelagh Union to recover money due to him for his services in the erection of labourers' cottages, see Irish Times, 5 Feb 1895.
Wicklow Newsletter, 15 Aug,5 Sep 1891.
TICEI 20 (1889-1890), ? .
From Thom's directories and Jones's transcripts from same.