Engineer and architect. John Trail, Traill or Traile, who was described as 'foreign' in the Freeman's Journal for 15-17 May 1770, probably came to Ireland from Scotland. By his own account he started to practise as a canal engineer in February 1757. In 1768 on the recommendation of 'Mr Edgar', an officer of the Navigation Board, he was engaged by Dublin Corporation's pipe water committee to proceed with the completion of the Grand Canal from the River Morrell into the city in place of JOHN SATTERTHWAITE . In September of the same year he was granted the freedom of the Corporation of Carpenters for his work on the canal banks. On the formation of the Grand Canal Company in 1772, he continued to be employed on the canal as company engineer. He resigned in January 1777. The work which he claimed to have completed was then found to be defective and became the subject of a lawsuit. He was succeeded in the post by CHARLES TARRANT .
The unsatisfactory outcome of his contract with the Grand Canal Company had no lasting ill effects on Trail's career. As engineer to the Revenue Commissioners, he designed twin octagonal lighthouses on Wicklow Head in 1781. He was appointed high sheriff of Co. Dublin in 1782 and was later knighted. In 1787 he designed the Dublin county gaol at Kilmainham, which opened in 1796, and in 1794 his plans for the Dublin city marshalsea were adopted by the Corporation though not carried out. He was a member of the Dublin Society from 1772 to 1787. In 1796 he was appointed a member of the parliamentary committee which was charged with preparing a report on the state of the Dublin Foundling Hospital. He died in or shortly before 1801, when his will was proved in the Prerogative Court. In the latter years of his life he lived at Islandbridge, Co. Dublin.
See WORKS and BIBLIOGRAPHY.
The name is Scottish. One branch of the family had strong links with the north of Ireland, see Burke's Irish Family Records (1976), 1125-1127.
Ruth Delany, 'John Trail - Grand Canal Engineer', Journal of the Co. Kildare Archaeological Society 14 (1970, No. 5), 628.
Faulkner's Dublin Journal, 29 Sep-1 Oct 1868Freeman's Journal, 1-4 Oct 1768.
For an account of Trail's work on the Grand Canal, see Ruth Delany, op. cit., above, 626-630, and A Celebration of 250 years of Ireland's inland waterways (1988), 77-79.
NA/PRO (Kew) Cust.1.150 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44); Bill Long, Bright Light, White Water (1993),48; R.C. Cox & M.H. Gould, Civil Engineering Heritage: Ireland (1998), 102.
NLI? MS. 14,893 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44); A.J. Nowlan, 'Kilmainham Gaol', Dublin Historical Record 15 (Jan 1960), 107.
See note 6, above.
CARD 14, 346-7; Thomas King Moylan, 'The Little Green', Dublin Historical Record 8 (Jun-Aug 1946), 91.
A.W. Skempton et al., A Biographical Dictionary of Civil Engineers in Great Britain and Ireland I (2002), 714.
Mary Hayden, 'Charity Children in 18th Century Dublin', Dublin Historical Record 5 (Mar-May 1943), 97; Eamonn MacThomas, 'The South Dublin Union', Dublin Historical Record 26 (Mar 1973), 58.
Arthur Vicars, Index to the Prerogative Wills of Ireland 1536-1810 (1897), 460.