Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

County surveyor for Co. Carlow, 1851-1860, and Co. Kilkenny, 1861-1894 . Peter Burtchaell was born on 31 October 1820 at Brandondale House, Graiguenamanagh, Co. Kilkenny, the second son of David Burtchaell of Brandondale and Jane, daughter of Gilmore Dames, of Dublin. He was educated at the Feinaglian Instution, Dublin, and served his apprenticeship with WILLIAM JOHNSTON WILLIAM JOHNSTON , county surveyor of Waterford.(1) He might possibly be the 'Burdell' or 'Bardell' who is recorded as having entered the competition for designing Kingsbridge Station, Dublin, in 1845.(2) After working for some years on a variety of road, railway and drainage schemes, he was appointed county surveyor for Co. Carlow on 9 April 1851(3) in succession to ALEXANDER HARRISON  ALEXANDER HARRISON and remained in the post until December 1860, when he was transferred to the surveyorship of Kilkenny county and city following the death of SAMSON CARTER. SAMSON CARTER. (4) He remained in this post until shortly before his own death in 1894. The frustrations consequent on being obliged by Act of Parliament to give public contracts to the lowest bidder are described in an extract from his report to the Grand Jury of Kilkenny, published in the Irish Builder.(5)

Burtchaell died suddenly of a heart attack on 21 June 1894 at his house, Larchfield, Co. Kilkenny, when he was about to go to Dublin in connection with the construction of a proposed new bridge at Ferry Mountgarrett. He had recently handed in his resignation as county surveyor because of disagreements with some members of the Grand Jury, which, as his friends believed, 'had preyed upon his mind and superinduced the disease from which he died with such alarming suddenness'. He was married to Maria Isabella, eldest daughter of Lundy Edward Foot, barrister, of 14 Upper Fitzwilliam Street, Dublin.(6) His second son, DAVID EDWARD BURTCHAELL DAVID EDWARD BURTCHAELL , was also an engineer; the eldest, George Dames Burtchaell, deputy Ulster King of Arms, was a barrister, antiquarian and genealogist;(7) the third, General Sir Charles Burtchaell had a distinguished career in the army as principal medical officer in France and India.(8) His pupils and assistants included LUCIUS JOHN BOYD LUCIUS JOHN BOYD . According to his obituary in the Kilkenny Moderator, Burtchaell was a member of the Order of Freemasons, which he 'loved…with a love which nothing but death alone could quench'.

Inst.CE: elected member, 4 Febrary 1879.(9)
ICEI: elected member, 1847,(10) 'but resigned his membership some years before his death'.
RSAI: elected member 7 March 1852, proposed by SAMSON CARTER SAMSON CARTER , jr.(11)

Addresses: Graiguenamanagh, Co. Kilkenny, 1849;(12) Green Vale, Kilkenny, 1861-1868; Larchfield, Co. Kilkenny 1869 until death.



The fullest account of Burtchaell's life and of his career as a county surveyor is in Brendan O'Donoghue, The Irish County Surveyors 1834-1944 (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2007), 119-121. Other unreferenced information in this entry is from the obituary of Burtchaell in Proceedings of the Association of Municipal & County Engineers 21 (1894-95), 325, from Thom's directories.

(1) O'Donoghue, op. cit., above, 119. According to the obituary mentioned above, Burtchaell was apprenticed to 'Mr Johnson, the county surveyor of Wexford'.
(2) IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc.2008/44.
(3) B.O'D.
(4) B 18, 29 Dec 1860, 844; IB 3, 15 Jan 1861, 400.
(5) IB 15, 15 Jul 1873, 195.
(6) Obituary of David Edward Burtchaell in TICEI 37(1911), 189.
(7) Obituary of George Dames Burtchaell in IB 63, 27 Aug 1921, 573.
(8) See note 7, above.
(9) Min Proc.Inst.CE 56 (1878-79) Pt 2, 93.
(10) IB 12, 15 Aug 1870, 197.
(11) JRSAI 2 (1852-1853), 188.
(12) See note 7, above.

3 work entries listed in chronological order for BURTCHAELL, PETER

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Date: 1868-1869
Nature: Free lattice girder bridge between New Ross & Rosbercon, replacing old wooden bridge which was partly destroyed in Jan 1867. Designed by J.B Farrell with S.U. Roberts & Peter Burtchaell. Contractor: Kennaird Bros, Leeds? Opened to traffic, Aug 1869.
Refs: Henry Nathan Maynard, 'The New Ross Bridge' in Min.Proc.Inst.CE 32 (1870-71), 146-151, Pl. 12; Brendan O'Donoghue, The Irish County Surveyors 1834-1944 (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2007), 121.

Date: 1870-1872
Nature: Proposed new iron bridge to replace that of 1767, consisting of three semi-elliptical arches resting on stone piers and abutments. With S.U. Roberts. Presentment falls through, 1872, suitable tender for metal bridge not having been obtained.
Refs: IB 12, 1 Dec 1870, 288; 13, 1 Aug, 1 Sep 1871, 193,230; 14, 15 Jul 1872, 194

Date: 1871
Nature: Unexecuted proposal for cast-iron bridge.
Refs: IB 13, 1 Aug 1871, 193; Brendan O'Donoghue, The Irish County Surveyors 1834-1944 (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2007), 122