Agnes Nesta Shakespeare Higginson Skrine
William Dargan (1799 - 1867):
William Dargan was born in County Carlow and worked on engineering projects in England under Telford. He was contracted to build many railways in Ireland, including the Dublin railway, and the Ulster Canal running between Belfast and Lough Erne; he also dredged the channels of the river Lagan that enabled Belfast to become a major port. Both rail and road travellers passing near Bessbrook, just north of Newry on the route between Belfast and Dublin, will be familiar with Dargan’s impressive 18-arch viaduct: rail travellers on it and road travellers for a stretch alongside it.
He financially guaranteed the great Dublin Exhibition of 1853 and entertained Queen Victoria at his home, Dargan Villa, Mount Annville on 29 August 1853. He declined both a knighthood offered to him by the Viceroy of Ireland and a baronetcy offered to him by the Sovereign. He fell from a horse in 1866 and sustained serious injury which terminated his career.
Dargan, often called the “Father of Irish Railways”, was one of those rare figures who had a stature erected to him while still living, unveiled in 1853 by the Lord Lieutenant on the front lawn of what is now the National Gallery of Art on Merrion Square. In Ulster, 1995 saw the opening of the Dargan (railway) Bridge which spans the River Lagan in Belfast and connects lines from Belfast to Derry in the North-West, Bangor to the east and Newry to the south (and hence Dublin in the Republic of Ireland - where there is also a bridge named after him).
|Born:||28 February 1799|
|Died:||7 February 1867|
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