William Dargan

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Dargan, William, contractor and financier, was born in the County of Carlow, 28th February 1799. On leaving school he was placed in a surveyor's office, where he showed great aptitude for business. Having gained some experience in England under Telford, he entered into a contract for the construction of the road from Dublin to Howth, in which work he was so successful that in 1831 he contracted for the construction of the Dublin and Kingstown Railway, the first in Ireland. As the railway system spread through the country, he undertook the construction of the principal lines — Great Southern and Western, Midland Great Western, and others, in all about 1,000 miles, and accumulated a large fortune, mostly invested in Irish railway shares. He undertook the financial risk of the Dublin Industrial Exhibition of 1853, and bore the deficit of about £ 10,000 resulting therefrom. On the occasion of its opening by the Queen he declined the honour of knighthood. To commemorate his active interest in the industrial progress of Ireland, his statue was erected in front of the National Gallery of Dublin, and from 1853 to 1865 he was among the most honoured men in the country, and was supposed to be one of the wealthiest. But a terrible reverse was impending. In 1866 he was severely injured by a fall from his horse, and soon afterwards, overstrained by innumerable undertakings, became bankrupt, and died, broken in health and spirits, 7th February 1867, aged nearly 68. He was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery. A small pension on the Civil List was granted to his widow.

Sources

39. Biographical Dictionary, Imperial: Edited by John F. Waller. 3 vols. London, N.D.

40. Biographical Division of English Cyclopaedia, with Supplement: Charles Knight, 7 vols. London, 1856-'72.

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