The Leading Dublin Manufacturing Firms of the 1920s: the presentation

Here’s the paper I presented to the Old Dublin Society the other night.  I had too many images to upload.  Only a few are included here:

A. Old Dublin Society JNL ART v5

9 replies on “The Leading Dublin Manufacturing Firms of the 1920s: the presentation”

Well done – I couldn’t quite remember the last line!
And for some daft reason the old Procea ads you used to get in the cinema have stayed with me too

Got less starch, slice for slice
Go get Procea, tastes so nice

Thanks for posting a copy of your paper, and for including some of the delightful illustrations which you used in your talk to the Old Dublin Society
On my way back from a walk to the local shop this morning, I noticed a large drain cover at the edge of our housing estate, manufactured by Bailieboro Foundry Limited. (Yes, I’m now studying the ground as I go about the mundane business of buying a pint of milk for the breakfast. And it’s all your fault!)

The houses were built in the 1980s. Some time ago, I discovered that the original sitting-room fireplaces in all of them – and possibly in several other estates from the 70s/80s in this area of Dublin – were also supplied by BFL. It appears this company originated in Cavan in the early 1900s, and had several commercial reincarnations thereafter as time progressed. Presumably a victim of the great ‘crash’, it finally went into liquidation in 2011. Wondering if it appears on any of your lists?

Also curious as to what you anticipate your broader research project will ultimately show in respect of the breakdown on religious lines of ownership of manufacturing industry in pre-Independence Dublin? In particular, to what extent, or otherwise, class and/or socio-economic status (and all that goes with them in terms of educational attainment, access to finance , influence of social networking etc.) are likely to be more a determinant of firm ownership than religious affiliation per se? Is it even possible to separate out such entanglements?

An excellent and interesting compendium.
Am I correct in noting that there were no tannery manufacturers of sufficient size to make it onto the list? Nor apparently do we have any tanneries in present times; exporting hides and reimporting leather, some of it to the Netherlands whose population is not afraid to hold its nose while making a living.
There was a tannery, on the island, in Limerick, in times past, but I cannot say how large it was.

It is also disappointing that many of the foundries have closed, not to be replaced.

Like Veronica, I wonder if factors other than religion influenced the concentration of large business among what were minority religions in the state. I suspect education and availability of capital may have been strong factors in that concentration. But it should be noted that some of the names have a very old association with Ireland, the Name Denny being associated with Kerry since the late 1500’s.

Considering the dearth of manufacturing industry, and its narrow concentration of ownership, is not difficult to understand the wish of the first Fianna Fail government to develop industry, even if behind tariff barriers. Some of those industries have survived and developed, albeit through many iterations. The glass ‘industry’, introduced into Waterford, and also into Tipperary, where none other than Dan Breen was a board nember, still exists; that Tipperary company now exists as Taylor Made (not the golf Taylor Made, that it predates) but has spawned, by virtue of workers leaving, Carey glass in Nenagh, today a major employer, and another local glass company.

Finally, a really big well done to Rathborne’s, the candle makers, to have survived since 1488, and to the author for the paper.

The following extracts from a working paper published by UCD (Guinnane, Moehling and O Grada, 2001) on a study of Pembroke township in the 19th century may be of some help:

“In the early eighteenth century Roman Catholics were in the minority in Dublin. Their
share rose thereafter, from about half in the mid-eighteenth century to about four-fifths a
century later. In 1911 83.1 per cent of those living within the official city were Catholics.
This takes no account, however, of suburban areas which remained separate from the city for
mainly fiscal reasons. In the Greater Dublin area that included the suburban townships of
Pembroke and Rathmines and Rathgar, the Catholic share was somewhat less (78.2 per cent).Members of the Episcopalian Church of Ireland accounted for a further 16.7 per cent of the population of this greater metropolitan area, Presbyterians 1.9 per cent, Methodists 1.2 per cent, and others (mainly other non-conformists) 2.1 per cent (Dickson, 1989; British
Parliamentary Papers, 1912-3: 6049-I, vii, 6049-II, vii)”….

…“The socio-economic gap between Catholics and non-Catholics in this Dublin suburb [Pembroke] was very wide. Catholic couples are 63 per cent of all couples in our database. But these couples account for 95 per cent of all couples living in tenements. Catholic households contained a median of 1.7 people per room, compared to a non-Catholic median of 0.87. Catholic men accounted for 89 per cent of the labourers, 78 per cent of semi-skilled workers, 63 per cent of those in skilled occupations, 43 per cent of the clerks, and 32 per cent of those in professional occupations. These social-class implications of confession in Ireland suggest that it is very important not to confuse the impact of religion with that of class.”

One assumes that similar patterns of socio-economic distribution applied within other suburban areas, and in the old city area itself, and were related to availability of manufacturing and other types of employment opportunities?

@ Veronica: Irish Foundries Ltd. was a steel making company formed in 1948 in Balieborough. Noted at the time for being Ireland’s only manufacturer of baths. I have no record of an earlier incarnation, but would appreciate any evidence of this that you can find.

@ Joseph: there were only 5 tanneries in the Free State in the 1920s: at Limerick, Clonmel, New Ross, Ballitore and Thomastown (Co. Kilkenny); and the one at New Ross closed down before the Tariff Commission report on leather was issued in 1931. There is a paper on the leather industry you might be interested in: THE LEATHER INDUSTRIES OF THE IRISH REPUBLIC, 1922-’55, by D. J. DWYER (Irish Geography journal, 1961)

@ V&J: The question about socio-economic status versus religion is the big one. This study originated as an attempt simply to pin employment numbers to the firms of the time. Then I realised I could find religion of ownership (or management and control) from the online censuses. I have since been able to identify the political allegiances of many of the principals.

The question you raise is unanswered as yet. The Protestant responses to apparent inequalities at the time focused on differences in educational attainment and/or entrepreneurial spirit. Capital was the elephant in the room! What I’ve found interesting is that, in textiles for example, Catholics dominated in woollen and worsted; Protestants in non-woollen textiles such as linen, jute, cotton… Perhaps the Catholic firms were established later, as Catholics climbed the socio-economic ladder? I’ll be able to check this in due course as I have the date of establishment of all of the firms in my database.

Thanks for your interest!

Some brands deserve a cheque from The President!

Anyone in QUB or UU care to complement this with similar for Belfast?

Blind Biddy has just sent her niece scurrying around seeking a TM for ‘Macaroon’ ….

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