Friday

Notes about St Germans, Dalkey.

A few weeks back I posted the picture here, wondering if anyone could identify it. All I knew was that it was from an old glass plate negative from my grandfather’s collection, and that he lived in Dalkey, Co Dublin. I also knew that he’d taken similar photos of the area from around late 1870’s to the early 1900’s. The general treeless landscape, not to mention the woman’s dress, put in mind an early date, and I knew those italianate blinds were popular in the area in the 1890’s, my grandfather’s own house Monte Alverno in Dalkey being similarly equipped.


Barely was the photo online than up popped Aoife Sherwin @tweetiesherwin to identify it as St German’s, Vico Road, Dalkey. And she put up the picture of the house as it is today. The blinds have gone, the iron gates stay the same.
Next step, I told myself, who are those people?
Back in Ireland this week and passing thro Dublin I visited the Irish Architectural Archive @Arch-Archive and The National Library @NLIreland. It seems the house was occupied up until 1886 by one Henry Williams. Of him, I found nothing, other than that he was presumably son of James Williams who had lived there in 1879.  But then in 1891 it was occupied by one D.C.Ferguson CE.
A man by name of D.C.Ferguson was ‘Architect and Surveyor’ (in 1877) at 45 North Great Georges Street, and (in 1879) at Leinster Road Rathmines. And a D.C.Ferguson was in St Alban’s, a house in Dalkey’s Nerano Road in 1886.
The 1901 census shows St Germans occupied by one Duncan Campbell Ferguson, aged 56, his 48 year old wife, and their nine children.
Now here’s the thing. A Duncan Campell Ferguson was a noted architect, and all about can he read him here.

But, noted or not, he certainly wasn’t 56 in the year 1901, having been old enough in the 1820’s to have received architectural prizes. But..the same Duncan had a son of the same name, Duncan Campbell Ferguson. An accountant in Guinness, he was married to a Scottish lady with the strange given name, for a woman, of Douglas. Strange in our times, but in earlier centuries used also by girls.
Anyway, obviously, there were two Duncan Campbell Fergusons. My surmise...the architect older owned St German’s in 1891, or it was held in his name anyway. The accountant younger lived round the corner in St Albans. By 1901 the younger had moved into his father’s residence. With the nine children!
Something along those lines.
The woman in the dress?
Douglas Ferguson? Most likely. But would a forty eight year old woman have worn a dress like that around 1900?

Being Scottish, and married to an accountant, in Guinness, no doubt..

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