Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

Builder, of Gorey, Co. Wexford, active in the 1850s and 1860s. John Kelly appears to have started his building career working for RICHARD PIERCE [2]  RICHARD PIERCE [2] of Wexford. Pierce, in a heavily sarcastic reply to a letter which Kelly wrote to the Dublin Builderin 1863 on the subject of the new church at Lady's Island, Co. Wexford,(1) points out that Kelly had been 'trained in my employment, having been my foreman for several years at the Gothic churches of Wexford, Dublin, Portlaw, and Clonea'.(2) From the tone of Pierce's letter it is clear that the two men had fallen out. By the time of writing Kelly had his set up his own contracting business in Gorey, Co. Wexford, and had built the Church of St John (CI) at Ardamine near Gorey to designs by GEORGE EDMUND STREET GEORGE EDMUND STREET . He describes the church in an earlier letter to the Dublin Builder, written in 1861.(3)

Kelly also practised as an architect, airing his opinions on architectural matters in the Wexford Independent.(4) He appears to have designed additions and alterations to Courtown House, Co. Wexford, for the Earl of Courtown, 1864-65, which were then improved upon by WILLIAM BURN  WILLIAM BURN in 1865-1868,(5) and designed and built the Catholic church at Monageer, 1870-71.(6)  He may be the John Kelly who in June 1843 made a measured survey of Dunbrody Abbey, Co. Wexford, for GEORGE WILKINSON GEORGE WILKINSON ; Wilkinson was at the time collecting drawings of antiquities in preparation for his book, Practical Geology, and Ancient Architecture of Ireland, which was published in in 1845.(7)



(1) DB 5, 1 May 1863, 80.
(2) DB 5, 15 May 1863, 89.
(3) DB 3, 1 Jul 1861, 554.
(4) Wexford Independent, 22 Sep,15 Dec 1860, 29 Jun 1861,6 Jan, 8 Feb 1862 (information from Conor O'Brien, Annacurra, Co. Wicklow).
(5) See drawings by Kelly and Burn in collection of Dr Denis Molumby, Wexford. (Photographs in IAA).
(6) Churches of the Diocese of Ferns (Booklink, 2004), 101.
(7) The drawing is among a collection of drawings, mainly of antiquities, which belonged to Wilkinson and is now in the NLI; the collection also includes a plan by Wilkinson of Courtown House, dated 1841;  five more topographical drawings of Dunbrody by Kelly in connection with the same project  (formerly in collection of Dr Denis Molumby, Wexford ) were for sale at auction by Fosie Mealy, Castlecomer, 10 Dec 2019 (Lot 542).

2 work entries listed in chronological order for KELLY, JOHN [4]*

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Date: 1864-1865
Nature: Proposed alts. & adds.for 5th Earl of Courtown These appear to have been executed and then improved upon by William Burn. Was Kelly clerk of works or builder for Burn's work?
Refs: Plans, elevations, signed & dated 1864-1865 in collection of Dr Denis Molumby, Wexford (photographs in IAA); for sale at auction, Fonsie Mealy, Castlecomer, 10 Dec 2019, Lot 543.

Date: 1870
Nature: New church designed and built by JK.  Gothic. FS laid Apr 1870. Dedicated 1 Nov 1871.
Refs: Churches of the Diocese of Ferns (Booklink, 2004), 101(illus.).