Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

Land surveyor and engineer, active from the 1830s to 1860. Matthew Leahy, the fourth and youngest son of PATRICK LEAHY  PATRICK LEAHY and brother of DENIS LEAHY  DENIS LEAHY and EDMUND LEAHY EDMUND LEAHY , was born probably in Thurles, Co. Tipperary circa 1818. He was trained as a surveyor and engineer by his father. In 1834, when his father was appointed county surveyor for the East Riding of Co. Cork and his brother Edmund county surveyor for the West Riding, he moved with his mother and sisters to Cork. In Cork he acted as an unofficial assistant to his father, particularly on tasks attached to the function of city surveyor. He also occasionally helped his brother Edmund with Grand Jury business in the West Riding, even standing in for him at the Grand Jury presentment session in the spring of 1845. He himself sat the county surveyorship examinations in 1838, 1840 and 1845, but without success. In September 1840 he was awarded the contract for the completion of the Tralee ship canal. The work was still unfinished in June 1843, when Matthew disappeared, leaving his brother Denis to take his place. Early in 1844 the Board of Works took the contract from the Leahys and completed the work. During this period Matthew Leahy was also involved in making surveys for his brother Edmund's railway schemes.

Following the resignation of Edmund and the dismissal of Patrick from the Cork surveyorships early in 1846, Matthew probably went to Dublin, where he was present for the hearing of the case brought by Edmund against the directors of the Cork & Bandon Railway Co. in October and November 1846. He may then have gone to London. In January 1849 emigrated with his father and Edmund to the Cape of Good Hope. During the 1850s he was working with Edmund in Turkey. After his return to London in 1858, he was effectively unemployed until, in June 1860, he was appointed to the unenviable post of Superintendent of Public Works in Trinidad. He arrived in Trinidad in September 1860 but died within four months of his arrival, on 14 December 1860.


This entry is condensed from Brendan O'Donoghue's definitive account of the lives of Patrick Leahy and his sons, In Search of fame and fortune: the Leahy family of engineers 1780-1888 (Dublin: Geography Publications, 2006).