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The Association may be contacted through its Secretary,

Peter F Durnin, KC*SG, KM, GCHS, "Rosaire", Moneymore, Drogheda, Co Louth. A92 RF6F



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Photo: Dublin Civic Portrait Collection/Dublin City Council.


1810 – 1884.Twice Lord Mayor of Dublin in 1864 and 1875 he was owner of what became  Clerys department store in O’Connell Street. Born in  in Cork city into a prosperous Catholic middle class family. He was related to the Liberator Daniel O’Connell. In December 1875 he led a delegation to Rome to pay homage to Pope Pius IX. Conferred in 1876 with the Grand Cross of the Order of St Gregory the Great. He was also conferred with the Legion of Honour by France for assistance in paying off the French war debt.  Peter Paul McSwiney and George Delaney ran a competition for the design of the new store. It was called the New Mart and it was the world’s first department store .the artist Michael Angelo Hayes, McSwiney’s brother in law captured the position of the store as a focal point of the city’s main street in an 1854 painting of Sackville Street. McSwiney was prominently associated with the committee planning the erection of the O’Connell monument. In nineteenth century Ireland very little was done to help the disabled.  Conscious of this Richard Martin of Phibsborough, Dublin, left in his will a bequest of £500 for the endowment of a Catholic establishment for the blind.  The money was used by to purchase a small house in Lower Dominick Street, and on the 18 April, 1858 this house was opened under the name of St. Mary’s Asylum for the Blind.  He approached the Sisters of Charity, to request that the Order take on the running of the house.  Two sisters from Stanhope Street visited the House for a few hours every day.  Numbers grew and the House became too small so when Portobello Hotel came up for sale Monsignor Yore purchased it.  The number of residents increased and it was essential to get larger accommodation, but the Sisters were sorely in need of funds not only for a new building, but also  for the support of the girls in their care, who now numbered over a hundred. Some ladies formed themselves into a committee to raise funds for St. Mary’s.  They went in person from door to door, begging for subscriptions, and soon raised a sum of over £300. McSwiney, who was coming to the end of his term of office as Lord Mayor of Dublin, decided to donate his carriage and horses to charity.  He was persuaded to donate to St. Mary’s.  It was decided to organise a monster bazaar and the first prize was to be the lord Mayor’s carriage and horses.  The bazaar was held on the 30 and 31 May, 1866 and raised an amazing sum of £4,000. Peter married Anne O’Lalor and lived with his three sons and six daughters, his only surviving son following him to the grave a year later. He is buried in Glasnevin Cemetery.


References:  Irish Times 28 February 1884; “History of the Dublin catholic cemeteries” W J Fitzpatrick (1900), Dictionary of Irish Biography  (CUP)  and “The very heart of the City: the story of Denis Guiney & Clerys” Peter Costello and Tony Farmer (1992).