Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

Engineer. Jerome Burns was born near Mallow, Co. Cork, on 25 January 1827. He attended a commercial school in Cork and then served a pupilage at Leahy's in the same city. Soon after completing his articles, he spent three years in the office of Sir JOHN MACNEILL  JOHN MACNEILL and was then resident engineer on the Killarney Junction Railway for two and a half years. He was next employed under the Board of Works on river surveying and other works.

In 1855 Burns went to India as an assistant engineer on the Bombay, Baroda and Central India Railway. He was promoted to the position of Resident Engineer in January 1858 and to that of Deputy Chief Engineer in February 1860. In January 1861 he left the company and was given the contract for maintaining and watering the streets of Bombay.

In about 1863, having become finanacially independent, he returned to Cork and established a large brickworks at Belvelly which supplied the Government with bricks and tiles for some years. Eventually demand declined and Burns lost heavily. Other speculations proved equally unsuccessful. In 1882 he went to South America to report on the practicability of constructing a pier at ParĂ¡ on the River Amazon, a project which proved impossible. In 1885 he moved to Australia in the hope of recovering his finances but was not able to find permanent employment. He died of pneumonia at St Kilda, Melbourne, on 14 January 1894.

According to his obituarist in the Minutes and Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers, Burns's 'genial disposition and the courage with which he faced misfortune endeared him to many; and his want of success in life was due not to lack of ability, but in all probability to a restless temperament and a too sanguine disposition which led him into unfortunate speculations'.

Inst.CE: elected member, 28 May 1861.


All information in this entry is from the obituary of Burns in Min.Proc.Inst.CE 117 (1893-94, Pt. III), 365-6.