Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

Amateur architect, of Kenmare, Co. Kerry, and Luggacullen, Co. Laois. John Townsend Trench was born on 17 February 1834. He was the second son of William Steuart Trench (1808-1872), land-agent to the Marquess of Lansdowne and author of Realties of Irish Life.(1) His mother, Elizabeth Susanna, was a daughter of John Sealy Townsend, of Myross Wood, Co. Cork, and a first cousin of HORACE UNIACKE TOWNSEND. HORACE UNIACKE TOWNSEND. (2) John Trench was a land-agent like his father, whom he succeeded as agent to the Lansdowne estates in Co. Kerry; he was also agent to the Stradbally estate in Co. Laois.(3) His architectural formation, if any, is not recorded. The most important work to be credited to him is Glenveagh Castle, Co. Donegal, built for his first cousin John George Adair, of Bellegrove, Co. Laois, between 1869 and 1873; the attribution is made on the basis of a signed perspective view, and it is possible that his idea was given reality by a professionally trained architect or draughtsman.(4) He also designed a concrete Gothic town hall(5) and other improvements on the Earl of Carysfort's estate at Arklow, Co. Wicklow. The perspective view of the latter which he presented to Lady Carysfort in 1887(6) was drawn by a London architect or draughtsman named Howard Gaye.(7)

Trench was a JP for both Co. Kerry, from 1863 or earlier, and Co. Laois, from 1875 or earlier.(8) He was married twice, first, in 1870, to Agnes (d.1872), daughter of Herman Merivale, Under Secretary for India, and second, in 1874, to Leonora, daughter of George Cecil Gore Wray, of Ardnamona, Co. Donegal.(9) He died on 9 August 1909.(10)

Addresses:(10) Lansdowne Lodge, Kenmare, Co. Kerry, 1863; Lansdowne Lodge, Kenmare, and Luggacurran, Stradbally, Co. Laois, <=1875->=1900.



(1) See Oxford DNB.
(2) Burke’s Irish Family Records (1976), 1116,1117.
(3) Information from Roderick Trench.
(4) See William Gallagher, Glenveagh Castle (Office of Public Works, 1993),12(illus.), 13.
(5) IB 20, 1 Dec 1878, 349.
(6) Exhibited Cynthia O'Connor Gallery, 10-21 Dec 1979 (no. 6). The drawing is inscribed on the original mount: 'Improvements to Arklow by the Earl of Carysfort 1887. Presented to Lady Carysfort by the architect, J. Townsend Trench, Kenmare, Ireland'.
(7) See Graves, II, 218.
(8) Information from Thom's directories.
(9) Burke's Peerage (1940), 160.
(10) See note 9, above.
(11) See note 8, above.

3 work entries listed in chronological order for TRENCH, JOHN TOWNSEND

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Date: 1869?-1873
Nature: New castle, for JTT's cousin John George Adair, who bought property in 1857 or 1859, and his American wife, Cornelia. Design attributed to JTT on basis of signed watercolour view. (According to Donegal Archaeological Journal, foundations were commenced in 1865 and castle was completed apart from E tower in 1870.) But see also William Harte.
Refs: R.M. Young, Belfast and the Province of Ulster (1909), 277; Donegal Archaeological Journal (1965), 158; Alistair Rowan, The Buildings of Ireland: North West Ulster (1979), 309-310; William Gallagher, Glenveagh Castle (Office of Public Works, 1993),12(illus.), 13.

Date: 1878
Nature: New concrete Gothic town hall, for William Proby, 5th Earl of Carysfort.  Inaugurated by Duke of Marlborough, 20 Nov 1878. 'Externally it has the appearance of a small country church, and on entering it one unacquainted with the purpose for swhich it was designed and built would almost conclude that the architect intended that it should have a character not strictly in conformity with the style of building usually adopted in connection with civic institutions.' (Irish Times)
Refs: Irish Times, 21 Nov 1878;  IB 20, 1 Dec 1878, 349.

Date: 1887
Nature: Proposed improvements (street containing church, church hall?, school, two semi-detached houses) for 5th Earl of Carysfort.
Refs: Perspective view, signed by Howard Gaye, and inscr. on original mount 'Improvements to Arklow by the Earl of Carysfort 1887. Presented to Lady Carysfort by the architect, J. Townsend Trench, Kenmare, Ireland.' (exh. Cynthia O'Connor Gallery, 10-21 Dec 1979, No. 6; photograph in IAA)