T.J. Byrne

T.J. Byrne (1876-1939)

Thomas Joseph Byrne (1876-1939) was born in Kingston upon Thames to an English mother and an Irish father. At the age of fifteen he began his training for architecture and came to Ireland to work in Drogheda in the office of Anthony Scott, whose daughter, May, he subsequently married in 1901. He took up a post as Architect and Clerk with the South Dublin Rural District Council and was responsible for many fine housing schemes in Rathfarnham, Tallaght, Chapelizod and Mount Brown. He also designed the Carnegie Libraries at Clondalkin and Whitechurch.

Student drawing

In 1919 Byrne was appointed Housing Inspector to the Local Government Board and in 1923 became Principal Architect of the Office of Public Works, overseeing the reconstruction of buildings destroyed during the War of Independence and the subsequent civil war, including the Four Courts, the Custom House and the GPO. He was also responsible for buildings that were very much of the 20th century, such as the new Radio Transmission building for 2RN at Athlone.

Byrne was an inspiring external examiner in Architecture for the National University of Ireland, and a founder member of the Institute of Christian Art. He played an important part in the development of Dublin Airport, and also had an involvement in the airports at Baldonnel and Rineanna (Shannon). Byrne carried out a number of private commissions over the years, including a house for his son, T. B. Byrne, in Rathfarnham and the Bridge House public house in Chapelizod.

Byrne House
House for T.B. Byrne

In 2011 Clondalkin and Whitechurch Carnegie Libraries celebrate 100 years of service to their communities. Both libraries were designed by T. J. Byrne and this exhibition, curated by Michael Fewer, was created as part of the centenary celebrations to honour this visionary man who links the two libraries and progressive local government of that time. For more information see here.