Monday, February 22, 2021

Bell Manufacturing in Ireland

The Ballingate Bell, now ringing in Malengwa in Western Zambia, was manufactured in the Murphy Bell Foundry in Dublin in 1889. This foundry was based at 15 Thomas Street - it is long gone and is now a car park according to Google Maps. According to the June 2002 edition of "The Ringing World" journal, John Murphy and his son John J. Murphy made bells for churches and cathedrals all over the world. Here's an extract from the article:

Rings of bells by Murphy included those for Melbourne in Australia, St Thomas the Apostle in Douglas in the Isle of Man, St Mary's RC cathedral in Cork, the fine-spired Church of the Immaculate Conception in Wexford, Mount St Alphonsus' Monastery in Limerick, Thurles cathedral in Co Tipperary, St Nicholas' in Cork and Ss Augustine and John in Dublin.

Murphy bells were also "awarded prizes at the Dublin and London Exhibitions and First Prize in 1900 at the Paris Exhibition".
The Ballingate Bell.

There were other bell foundries in Dublin including the Eagle Foundry run by James Sheridan in Church Street, and a bell foundry run by Thomas Hodges in Sackville Street (now O'Connell Street) before moving to nearby Middle Abbey Street. Clearly the church building boom of the late 19th and early 20th century fuelled the need for local manufacturing. In a time before telephones of any type, bells were also used as a form of communication. I recall visiting my Aunt Sr. Bridget in the Loreto Convent in Bray - straight after arriving a bell would ring out to signal to her that she had visitors. There were two rings, then a short pause, and then four rings - her number was 24.

Bells on top of houses were not uncommon, and many still exist today, though are no longer in use. Not far from Ballingate there are two bells located on what was the Coolattin Estate. On the roof of Coolattin House you can clearly see a bell when walking from the 16th to 17th tees in the adjoining golf course. Not far away on the road to Shillelagh there is another bell on what was the Building Yard. I'm sure there are many more around the country.

Coolattin House.

Close up of bell on Coolattin House.

The Building Yard bell.

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