Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

Architect, of Dublin. James Purcell Wrenn, a son of Andrew Wrenn, of St Andrew's, Glenageary, Co. Dublin, proprietor of four grocery shops in Dublin, and his wife, Hannah, was born in Glenageary, Co. Dublin, on 29 May 1872. He was educated at Belvedere College (1883-1884), Clongowes Wood College (1886-1889)(1) and St George's, Weybridge, Surrey. He was was articled to GEORGE COPPINGER ASHLIN  GEORGE COPPINGER ASHLIN for three years and spent a further three years in Ashlin's office as a salaried assistant. (2)  In 1898 he opened his own practice at 189 Great Brunswick Street, and in 1901 he was appointed architect to the district lunatic asylum at Portlaoise.   In 1905 he exhibited a design for a house at Limerick at the Royal Hibernian Academy from this address (no. 342) and in 1908 a design for a residence from his new address at 16 Nassau Street (no. 306). In 1905 he was appointed architect to Thurles Union Board of Guardians.(3) Apart from the county hall in Tralee, Co. Kerry (1909), his largest recorded commissions were for religious orders in Dublin and elsewhere in Ireland. His pupils and assistants included AUBREY O' ROURKE AUBREY O' ROURKE , HORACE TENNYSON O'ROURKE  HORACE TENNYSON O'ROURKE and WALTER STAINER. WALTER STAINER.

Although there is no record of any building designed by Wrenn in the Irish Builder after 1911, he appears to have entered both the University College, Dublin, competition of 1912 and the Dublin Municipal Buildings competition of 1913, while his letter-books (see below) continue to record a steady stream of surveys, repairs and minor alterations to premises in Dublin and the south suburbs, many of them for the solicitors and land agents E. & G. Stapleton.   He maintained an office in Dublin until 1929, when he appears to have retired.   He died at home in Ballsbridge in the summer of 1955.(4) He had married Margaret Mary Moylan, a graduate of the Royal University, in 1914. As a young man he had a fine baritone voice and was actively engaged in the musical life of Dublin.   He was appointed a governor of the Royal Irish Arcademy of Music in February 1911.(5)

The Irish Architectural Archive holds on loan (2009) from Wrenn's daughters, Mrs Dympna Carton and Mrs Oonagh Maguire, a set of five of his letter-books and a small number of miscellaneous papers (James Purcell Wrenn collection, Acc. 2009/20).

AAI:(6) elected member, 1898; ceased membership, 1917.
RIAI: elected member, 1899.(7)

Addresses:(8) Work: 189 Great Brunswick Street, 1899-1907; 16 Nassau Street, 1907(9)-1913; 24 Nassau Street, 1914-1915; 5 Leinster Street, 1916-1929.
Home: 3 Glenageary Road Upper, Dun Laoghaire, 1911;  3 Marlboro Road, Glenageary, 1917;  Glenogra, 64 Merrion Road, 1921 until death.

See WORKS.



References

All information in this entry not otherwise accounted for is from Wrenn's daughters, Mrs Dympna Carton and Mrs Oonagh Maguire, and from Jones's biography of Wrenn in Jones File W100; Jones's source was the Belvederean for 1909, 1955 and possibly for other years.

(1) T. Corcoran, SJ, Clongowes Record (n.d.), 221.
(2) IAA, RIAI office archives (Acc. 93/136), membership forms 1878-1909 (extremely fragile) 
(3) IB 47, 3 Jun 1905, 386. 
(4) IB 97, 18 Jun 1955, 639.
(5) Letter-book of J.P. Wrenn, 1909-1913, f. 370, in IAA, James Purcell Wrenn collection, Acc. 2009/20.
(6) From lists of members in AAI Green Books.
(7) From RIAI lists of members.
(8) From RIAI lists of members and Thom's directories unless otherwise indicated.
(9) IB 49, 30 Apr 1907, 288.


44 work entries listed in chronological order for WRENN, JAMES PURCELL


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Building: CO. MAYO, CROSSBOYNE, CHURCH OF ST STEPHEN (RC)
Date: 1898
Nature: Addition chancel, side chapels and sacristy. For Very Rev. James Stephens. Contractor: Stanners, Ballinrobe.
Refs: Letter-book of J.P. Wrenn, 1898-1903, ff. 1-19 &c., in IAA, James Purcell Wrenn collection, Acc. 2009/20, on loan from Mrs Dympna Carton and Mrs Oonagh Maguire.

Building: CO. LIMERICK, LIMERICK, ENNIS ROAD, HOUSES
Date: 1898-1900
Nature: New houses for Stephen McCarthy & Mrs Cissie Magee (the latter or both were JPW's cousins ).
Refs: Letter-book of J.P. Wrenn, 1898-1903, ff.20-30,35-36,42,44-48,82,86,95 &c., in IAA, James Purcell Wrenn collection, Acc. 2009/20, on loan from Mrs Dympna Carton and Mrs Oonagh Maguire.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, ANGLESEA STREET, NO. 023
Date: 1899-00
Nature: Reconstruction for Mssrs. Fottrell & Mooney, solicitors.
Refs: Letter-book of J.P. Wrenn, 1898-1903, ff.56-58,66,85,90,96-97 &c., in IAA, James Purcell Wrenn collection, Acc. 2009/20, on loan from Mrs Dympna Carton and Mrs Oonagh Maguire.

Building: CO. MEATH, CULMULLEN (DRUMREE)
Date: 1899-1900
Nature: Alterations to house and stables, for Hugh Gore.
Refs: Letter-book of J.P. Wrenn, 1898-1903, ff.63,69-71,73-75,81-82,84,86 &c., in in IAA, James Purcell Wrenn collection, Acc. 2009/20, on loan from Mrs Dympna Carton and Mrs Oonagh Maguire.

Building: CO. LAOIS, PORTLAOISE, CHRISTIAN BROTHERS' SCHOOLS
Date: 1899-1901;1906
Nature: New Christian Brothers' monastery and chapel, for Rev. - Geoghegan.  Begun, 1900. Contractor: J. Bracken, Templemore. New school extension approaching completion, Dec 1906, Contractor: Carroll, Portlaoise.
1906. Contractor: Carroll, Portlaoise.
Refs: Letter-book of J.P. Wrenn, 1898-1903, ff.. 51-55,60-68 &c,158-161 &c, in IAA, James Purcell Wrenn collection, Acc. 2009/20, on loan from Mrs Dympna Carton and Mrs Oonagh MaguireIB 48, 15 Dec 1906, 1008 (also IB 43, 8 May 1901, 720?)

Building: CO. CARLOW, CARLOW, KNOCKBEG COLLEGE
Date: 1900
Nature: Competition entrant.
Refs: Letter-book of J.P. Wrenn, 1898-1903, ff.377,382,385,424,432, in IAA, James Purcell Wrenn collection, Acc. 2009/20, on loan from Mrs Dympna Carton and Mrs Oonagh Maguire.

Building: CO. LAOIS, PORTLAOISE, PRESENTATION CONVENT
Date: 1901
Nature: Enlargement of refectory.
Refs: Letter-book of J.P. Wrenn, 1898-1903, ff.528,529, in IAA, James Purcell Wrenn collection, Acc. 2009/20, on loan from Mrs Dympna Carton and Mrs Oonagh Maguire.

Building: CO. KILDARE, ATHY, CHRISTIAN BROTHERS' SCHOOLS
Date: 1901
Nature: Technical schools, for Rev. J.D. O'Donoghue.  Contractor: D. & J. Carbery, Athy.
Refs: Letter-book of J.P. Wrenn, 1898-1903, ff.585 &c., in IAA, James Purcell Wrenn collection, Acc. 2009/20, on loan from Mrs Dympna Carton and Mrs Oonagh Maguire.

Building: CO. CLARE, ENNIS, CHRISTIAN BROTHERS' SCHOOL
Date: 1901
Nature: New technical laboratory, for Rev. Mr. Kerrigan.
Refs: Letter-book of J.P. Wrenn, 1898-1903, ff. 651 &c., in IAA, James Purcell Wrenn collection, Acc. 2009/20, on loan from Mrs Dympna Carton and Mrs Oonagh Maguire.

Building: CO. TIPPERARY, THURLES, CHRISTIAN BROTHERS' SCHOOL
Date: 1901-02
Nature: New technical schools with laboratory, for Rev. Mr Duggan. Contractor: William Leahy.
Refs: Letter-book of J.P. Wrenn, 1898-1903, ff.651 &c., in IAA, James Purcell Wrenn collection, Acc. 2009/20, on loan from Mrs Dympna Carton and Mrs Oonagh Maguire.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, FOXROCK, WESTMINSTER ROAD, GLENSTAL
Date: 1901-02
Nature: Small house, apparently designed for himself for letting. Contractor: R.E. Mellon.
Refs: Letter-book of J.P. Wrenn, 1898-1903, ff.515 &c., in IAA, James Purcell Wrenn collection, Acc. 2009/20, on loan from Mrs Dympna Carton and Mrs Oonagh Maguire.

Building: CO. KILDARE, ATHY, CONVENT OF MERCY
Date: 1901-02;1903
Nature: Works at same, including laundry. Contractor: D. & J. Carbery, Athy. Also screen in chapel, 1903.
Refs: Letter-book of J.P. Wrenn, 1898-1903, ff. 651 &c.,  in IAA, James Purcell Wrenn collection, Acc. 2009/20, on loan from Mrs Dympna Carton and Mrs Oonagh Maguire.

Building: CO. WATERFORD, WATERFORD, BARRACK STREET, MOUNT SION, CHRISTIAN BROTHERS' SCHOOLS
Date: 1901-1906
Nature: Works at same, including new chapel and schools, for Rev. C.V. Murray. Contractor: John Hearne, Waterford.
Refs: Letter-book of J.P. Wrenn, 1898-1903, ff. 628 &c., in IAA, James Purcell Wrenn collection, Acc. 2009/20, on loan from Mrs Dympna Carton and Mrs Oonagh MaguireIB 48, 1 Dec 1906, 970

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, CIRCULAR ROAD NORTH, HOUSES
Date: 1902
Nature: Terrace of houses, for Henry Hoban, Esq.
Refs: Letter-book of J.P. Wrenn, 1898-1903, ff. 787 &c., in IAA, James Purcell Wrenn collection, Acc. 2009/20, on loan from Mrs Dympna Carton and Mrs Oonagh Maguire.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DALKEY, LESLIE AVENUE, HOUSES
Date: 1902-03
Nature: Terrace of houses (Mayville Terrace?), for Joseph McCready. Contractor: Crampton.
Refs: Letter-book of J.P. Wrenn, 1898-1903, ff. 778 &c., in IAA, James Purcell Wrenn collection, Acc. 2009/20, on loan from Mrs Dympna Carton and Mrs Oonagh Maguire.

Building: CO. ROSCOMMON, ROSCOMMON, CHRISTIAN BROTHERS' SCHOOL
Date: 1903
Nature: Proposed conversion of old chapel into classrooms and laboratories.
Refs: Letter-book of J.P. Wrenn, 1898-1903. ff. 973 &c., in in IAA, James Purcell Wrenn collection, Acc. 2009/20, on loan from Mrs Dympna Carton and Mrs Oonagh Maguire.

Building: CO. LIMERICK, LIMERICK, HOUSE
Date: 1905
Nature: Design for same exh. RHA.
Refs: RHA 1905, No. 342

Building: CO. TIPPERARY, THURLES, DISPENSARY RESIDENCE
Date: 1905-07
Nature: New dispensary residence for Medical Officer of Thurles Dispensary District. For Thurles Union Board of Guardians. Contractor: W. Leahy (£1,219)..
Refs: IB 47, 21 Oct,4 Nov 1905, 746,790; 49, 24 Aug 1907, 594

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, ECCLES STREET, NO. 013-25 (DOMINICAN COLLEGE)
Date: 1906
Nature: Tenders invited for erecting new centre block and other works. (Demolished.)
Refs: B 90, 16 Jun 1906, 684

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, PROSPECT ROAD (GLASNEVIN), ST VINCENT DE PAUL MALE ORPHANAGE
Date: 1906-08
Nature: New buildings. Fibrous plasterwork by John Ryan, Upper Abbey St.
Refs: IB 48, 17 Nov 1906, 928; 50, 25 Jul 1908, 465

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, SANDFORD ROAD (RANELAGH), MILLTOWN PARK
Date: 1907
Nature: Large new wing built of concrete blocks, For Jesuit Fathers. Tenders invited, Jul 1907. Contractor: Thomas Mackey, Lr Camden St.. Fibrous plaster ceiling by John Ryan, Upper Abbey St. Further works re damp, 1913 (Contractor: Louis Monks).
Refs: Irish Times, 8 Jul 1907; IB 49, 13 Jul,5 Oct 1907, 473,490,693; 52, 22 Jan 1910, 57(illus.); Building News 98, 28 Jan 1910, 131;  Letterbooks of J.P. Wrenn, 1913-1918,ff.75 &c. in IAA, James Purcell Wrenn collection, Acc. 2009/20, on loan from Mrs Dympna Carton and Mrs Oonagh Maguire.

Building: CO. KILKENNY, TULLAROAN, HOUSE
Date: 1907
Nature: Tenders invited for erection of residence.
Refs: IB 49, 13 Jul 1907, 490

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, BALDOYLE, CHRISTIAN BROTHERS' JUNIOR NOVITIATE (ST JOSEPH'S COLLEGE)
Date: 1908
Nature: Additional wing proposed. Quantites being prepared by Mumby & O'Rourke.
Refs: IB 50, 4 Apr 1908, 213

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, MALAHIDE ROAD (ARTANE), INDUSTRIAL SCHOOLS FOR DUBLIN BOYS
Date: 1908-09
Nature: Proposed new staff residence. Bills of quantities being prepared by Mumby & O'Rourke, 1908. Also new stairs in old residence. For Rev. Mr O'Carroll and, later, Rev. Mr Ryan. Contractor: Thomas Mackey. lerk of Works: Christopher Curtis.
Refs: Letter-book of J.P. Wrenn, 1909-1913, ff. 19 &c., in in IAA, James Purcell Wrenn collection, Acc. 2009/20, on loan from Mrs Dympna Carton and Mrs Oonagh Maguire; IB 50, 16 May 1908, 309

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, EARL STREET NORTH, NO. 001
Date: 1909
Nature: Plans for remodelling of shop premises.
Refs: Letter-book of J.P. Wrenn, 1909-1913, ff. 297,298 &c. in IAA, James Purcell Wrenn collection, Acc. 2009/20, on loan from Mrs Dympna Carton and Mrs Oonagh Maguire; 

Building: CO. KERRY, TRALEE, COUNTY HALL (OLD)
Date: 1909-1910
Nature: Placed 3rd in competition but chosen as architect for same. County hall and assembly room (also called Theatre Royal).  Contractor: Kennedy, Moyderwell, Tralee.  Clerk of Works: Laurence Corrigan. Fibrous plaster work in Assembly Room by John Ryan, Upper Abbey Street. (Building destroyed in 1922.)
Refs: Letter-book of J.P. Wrenn, 1909-1913, ff. 1 &c., in IAA, James Purcell Wrenn collection, Acc. 2009/20, on loan from Mrs Dympna Carton and Mrs Oonagh Maguire;  IB 47, 15 Jul,9 Sep,4 Nov 1905, 493,618,790; 51, 20 Mar 1909, 178

Building: CO. DUBLIN, GLASTHULE, NATIONAL SCHOOL
Date: 1909-1910
Nature: Plans for new school, for Very Rev. Joseph Murray, PP. Contractor: Louis Monks.
Refs: Letter-book of J.P. Wrenn, 1909-1913, ff. 50 &c., in IAA, James Purcell Wrenn collection, Acc. 2009/20, on loan from Mrs Dympna Carton and Mrs Oonagh Maguire;  IB 51, 1 May 1909, 277

Building: CO. LAOIS, ABBEYLEIX, HIBERNIAN BANK
Date: 1909-1911
Nature: New bank house and offices. Contractor: Thomas A. Walsh. Clerk of works: James Bennett. Tenders invited, May 1909.
Refs: Letter-book of J.P. Wrenn, 1909-1913, ff. 297,298 &c. in IAA, James Purcell Wrenn collection, Acc. 2009/20, on loan from Mrs Dympna Carton and Mrs Oonagh Maguire;  Freeman's Journal, 8 May 1909.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, GRAFTON STREET, NO. 072
Date: 1910
Nature: Plans being prepared for rebuilding of premises (Not executed? cf. Grafton Picture House).
Refs: Letter-book of J.P. Wrenn, 1909-1913, ff. 298 &c. in IAA, James Purcell Wrenn collection, Acc. 2009/20, on loan from Mrs Dympna Carton and Mrs Oonagh Maguire; IB 52, 22 Jan 1910, 53

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUN LAOGHAIRE, GEORGE'S STREET UPPER, NO. 095
Date: 1910
Nature: Additions, for Dr Jeremiah O'Donovan.  Contractor: Louis Monks, Dun Laoghaire.
Refs: Letter-book of J.P. Wrenn, 1909-1913, ff. 144 &c.,  in IAA, James Purcell Wrenn collection, Acc. 2009/20, on loan from Mrs Dympna Carton and Mrs Oonagh Maguire

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, BLOOMFIELD AVENUE (DONNYBROOK), ROYAL HOSPITAL FOR INCURABLES
Date: 1910
Nature: Surveyor for competition for King Edward VII Memorial Pavilion for consumptives.
Refs: Letter-book of J.P. Wrenn, 1909-1913, ff. 289 &c. in IAA, James Purcell Wrenn collection, Acc. 2009/20, on loan from Mrs Dympna Carton and Mrs Oonagh Maguire.

Building: CO. KERRY, TRALEE, THEATRE ROYAL
Date: 1910
Nature: New theatre opened with concert, Jun 1910. Richly decorated interior 'in the charming Louis XVI style' designed by JPW and carried out in fibrous plaster by John Ryan, Abbey St, Dublin.
Refs: Freeman's Journal, 7 Jun 1910.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, GLASTHULE, EDEN PARK, HAROLD MEMORIAL SCHOOLS
Date: 1910-11
Nature: Adds. costing £2,800 to building of 1902. For Very Rev. Joseph Murray. Contractor: Louis Monks.
Refs: Letter-book of J.P. Wrenn, 1909-1913, ff. 93 &c., in IAA, James Purcell Wrenn collection, Acc. 2009/20, on loan from Mrs Dympna Carton and Mrs Oonagh Maguire; Clonliffe College Archive, MS p1/2

Building: CO. DUBLIN, GLASTHULE, GLASTHULE ROAD, CHURCH OF ST JOSEPH (RC)
Date: 1910-13;1920
Nature: New confessionals, frames for side altars, 1910-1913 (Contractor: Louis Monks, Dun Laoghaire.   Alterations to high altar, designs for Lady altar, station frames, vestry table, 1920. For Very Rev. Canon Joseph Murray.
Refs: Letter-book of J.P. Wrenn, 1898-1903, ff. 1-19 &c., in IAA, James Purcell Wrenn collection, Acc. 2009/20, on loan from Mrs Dympna Carton and Mrs Oonagh Maguire.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, GLENAGEARY, KILCOLMAN
Date: 1911
Nature: Alterations to bedrooms and basement, For Col. Saunders. Contractor: Louis Monks, Dun Laoghaire.
Refs: Letter-book of J.P. Wrenn, 1909-1913, ff. 436,437 &c., in IAA, James Purcell Wrenn collection, Acc. 2009/20, on loan from Mrs Dympna Carton and Mrs Oonagh Maguire.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, EARLSFORT TERRACE, UNIVERSITY COLLEGE
Date: 1912
Nature: Competition entrant.
Refs: Letter-book of J.P. Wrenn, 1909-1913, ff. 705,809, in IAA, James Purcell Wrenn collection, Acc. 2009/20, on loan from Mrs Dympna Carton and Mrs Oonagh Maguire;

Building: CO. DUBLIN, KILLINEY, WYVERN
Date: 1912-13
Nature: Additions, for George C. Stapleton. Contractor: Louis Monks, Dun Laoghaire.
Refs: Letter-book of J.P. Wrenn, 1909-1913, ff. 872,899,928,939l &c, in IAA, James Purcell Wrenn collection, Acc. 2009/20, on loan from Mrs Dympna Carton and Mrs Oonagh Maguire;

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, ORMOND QUAY LOWER, NO. 02
Date: 1913
Nature: Works at same.
Refs: Letter-book of J.P. Wrenn, 1913-1924, ff.1,4,15,17,32,35,40,47,48 &c.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, ABBEY STREET MIDDLE, NO. 073
Date: 1913
Nature: Repairs.
Refs: Letter-book of J.P. Wrenn, 1913-1924, ff.20,66

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, LORD EDWARD STREET, NO. 021-25 (MUNICIPAL BUILDINGS) (PROPOSED)
Date: 1913
Nature: Competition entrant, with Aubrey O'Rourke.
Refs: Letter-book of J.P. Wrenn, 1909-1913, ff.965,971j, in IAA, James Purcell Wrenn collection, Acc. 2009/20, on loan from Mrs Dympna Carton and Mrs Oonagh Maguire; IB 55, 12 Apr 1913, 259(illus in supplement?)

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, BENBURB STREET, NO. 018 & 19
Date: 1914
Nature: Works at same including rebuilding of parapet of No. 18.

Refs: Letter-book of J.P. Wrenn, 1913-1924,f. 187

Building: CO. TIPPERARY, FETHARD, PAROCHIAL HOUSE
Date: 1915
Nature: New parochial house, for Dean Innocent Ryan.
Refs: Letter-books of J.P. Wrenn, 1909-1913, ff. 410 &c., and 1913-1924, ff. 234-235 &c. in IAA, James Purcell Wrenn collection, Acc. 2009/20, on loan from Mrs Dympna Carton and Mrs Oonagh Maguire.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, PARNELL SQUARE, NO. 019 (CATHOLIC GIRLS' INSURANCE SOCIETY)
Date: 1920
Nature: JPW provides plan and estimate for additions.
Refs: Letter-book of J.P. Wrenn, 1913-1924, ff.857,862 &c.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, MERRION ROAD (BALLSBRIDGE), NO. 064 (GLENOGRA, FORMERLY ELSINORE)
Date: 1926
Nature: Works at same, including new porch and lavatory. For himself. Contractor: J. Brennan & Son, Xavier Avenue, North Strand, Dublin.
Refs: Letter-book of J.P. Wrenn, 1913-1924, f.919