Deane, Thomas (1792-1871) (DNB00)

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DEANE, Sir THOMAS (1792–1871), builder and architect in Cork, was born there in 1792. His father, also a builder, died while he was still a youth. Gifted, however, with energy and sense beyond his years, and aided by his mother, a woman of superior mind, he managed to maintain and extend his father's business and to educate himself and a large family of younger brothers and sisters. He undertook and successfully carried out large works as a contractor for various public bodies, realised a handsome fortune, and becoming mayor of Cork, received the honour of knighthood during his year of office, 1830, at the hands of the lord-lieutenant. He then adopted the architectural profession, and was largely employed by the government, the municipal authorities, and by private individuals. He was architect of many of the public buildings of his native city, as the Bank of Ireland, the old and new Savings Banks, the Commercial Buildings, the Queen's College, and the classic portico of the Court House. Of the two last Macaulay, whatever his title to speak on architecture may be, declares ‘the former entitled to stand in the High Street of Oxford,’ while the latter would do honour ‘to Palladio.’ The phrase may be rhetorically exaggerated, but the praise has been substantially endorsed by the architectural profession. He also erected the fine lunatic asylum at Killarney, ‘an imposing mass, well distributed and finely executed in the stone of the country.’ In Dublin, assisted by his partner and former pupil, Mr. Benjamin Woodward (whose promising career was cut short by death in 1861), he erected the beautiful addition to Trinity College in the Venetian style. The sculptural details upon which the beauty of this style so much depends were carried out by Irish workmen trained by the architects to imitate unconventionally the beauties of natural foliage. The best known of his large works is probably the museum at Oxford. In this he was assisted as well by his partner as by his son Thomas, who completed the work, and to whom he now left the active prosecution of the profession. Sir Thomas was president for many years of the Institute of Irish Architects, and died at his house in Longford Terrace, Monkstown, county Dublin, on 2 Oct. 1871, at the advanced age of eighty. He was thrice married and left a widow and several children. A man, as his successful career testifies, of indomitable energy, he was of a light, hopeful, and genial disposition. His taste led him towards the classic styles in architecture, and most of his works were designed in this, or its modern form, the Italian. In business he was upright and honourable. The kindliness of his disposition and the patriotic tendencies of his nature led him actively to befriend the artistic talent of young Ireland, and the careers of Maclise and Foley, among many others, bear testimony both to his discrimination and generosity.

[The Builder, 1871; Redgrave's Dict.]

G. W. B.