Turtle Bunbury

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THE DOCKLANDS - Joseph Mallagh (1873 - 1959)

'Dublin Docklands - An Urban Voyagewas commissioned by the Dublin Docklands Development Authority, and published in 2009. The following tale represents research I have undertaken for the project which may or may not be used in the final book.

Joseph Mallagh (1873 – 1959)

The Docklands enginner Joseph Mallagh was born on 20th Augsut 1873 and received his early education at the Monaghan Collegiate school. In 1891, he entered Queen’s College Galway (under Stoney’s brother?) to study technical training. He obtained his BA and BE degrees in 1896 after which he received further engineering training and experience under A.D. Price, Messrs Hassard & Cowan and Mr JHH Sweeney Consulting Engineers. He was engaged on the construction of the Downpatrick Waterworks Improvement Scheme, the Portadown and Banbridge Water Supply Scheme, and the Boyle Waterworks. He was a Surveying Officer in the staff of the General Valuation of Ireland from 1900 to 1903.

In 1905 he was appointed Engineer to the Sligo Harbour Commissioners, a post he filed successfully for over 10 years during which time he carried out economically, with the limited facilities at his disposal, some notable tidal works in the area.

In 1916 he was appointed to succeed John Griffith as Engineer-in-Chief to the Dublin Port & Docks Board. He remained there until retired by age limit in 1940. During his quarter of a century, he was responsible for the construction of several deepwater wharfs and dock warehouses, the installation of automatic fog signalling apparatus in some of the harbour lighthouses, extensive dredging works and other improvements.

Under his direction Dublin was one of the first ports to adopt the echo sounding method for the hydrographic surveys of the harbour. During his term of office he prepared and carried through the Parliamentary Bill for the reconstruction of Butt Bridge and for a new transporter bridge over the Liffey. The Butt Bridge was reconstructed under his jurisdiction. In 1925 he installed the new wireless fog signal invented by Professor J. J. Dowling. (The Sphere, 5 December 1925).

In 1929 Joseph Mallagh’s plans for a transporter bridge across the River Liffey were proposed under the Dublin Port and Docks Bill.Mallagh estimated the cost of construction at £167,000. The unique proposed design of his bridge featured two gondolas, each capable of carrying 16 vehicles and 700 pedestrians, which were able to pass mid-crossing. Professor John Hannavy, author of 'Gondolas In The Air - The story of Transporter Bridges' (2018) adds: 'This would have been a bridge to rival Arnodin’s plans for the Transbordeur du Médoc in Bordeaux had either ever been built. It would have crossed the river at the same point as Santiago Calatrava's 2009 Samuel Beckett Bridge, just west of the entrance to the Royal Canal.'

After his official retirement, he acted in a consultative capacity to several other Irish Port Authorities. He was elected an Associate Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1899 and transferred to full membership in 1931. He was elected a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers of Ireland in 1909 and a member of Council in 1920, and – like Stoney and Griffth before him – was elected President in 1930 - 1931.

He took an active part in the proceedings of the Institution and in 1922, 1925, 1927 and 1932 presented papers dealing with the development works in the Port of Dublin and, in 1939, a paper entitled ‘City Bridges Over the Liffey’.

In his Presidential Address, delivered in 1930, he stressed the value of the engineering profession in the life of the community and dealt with the development of engineering practice, the progress of shipping and the establishment of free ports. (So maybe base this around the Free Port tale and stress that didn’t mean free liquor).

He died aged 86 at his residence, 39 Nutley Park, Donnybrook, Dublin 4, on November 1st 1959.

With thanks to Engineering Ireland.



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