- Ballyknockan

John and James Brady

John Brady and his brother, James Brady were born in the 1790s.  They trained as stonecutters at Golden Hill under Michael Doyle.  John Brady appears to have married one of Doyle's daughters, while his brother James, moved to Dublin where he supported the transport side of the granite business.


When Michael Doyle died in 1843, he left his share of the Ballyknockan quarry '1/2 and 1/2' to John Brady and Patrick Reilly.  Brady, Reilly and Olligan then operated Ballyknockan until Olligan's death in 1853.


The new partnership was not a harmonious one as Brady and Reilly fell into dispute over shares in properties in Ballyknockan village.  Within a few years all three of the partners were operating their shares of the quarry as separate operations.

In the early 1860s an economic and building boom commenced and many other quarries opened up at Ballyknockan as new entrants tried their hand at the business.  In 1861 Patrick Reilly sold his own quarry to Peter Bryan and purchased Olligan's quarry.  This gave Reilly control of what was then the largest quarry at Ballyknockan.



'Johnny' Brady, circa 1871
'Johnny' Brady, circa 1871

'Johnny' Brady

John Brady (born c. 1795) had no children, and there was a danger of Brady's losing the quarry on his death.  So in 1861, James Brady sent his son John (1821 - 1895), nicknamed 'Johnny', back from Dublin to marry Marcella Tallon of Golden Hill.  Marcella Tallon was a granddaughter of Michael Doyle, so this marriage strengthened Brady's position in the quarry inheritance.

There was a financial crisis in Ireland in 1879, which soon led to the so-called 'Land War'.  Many of the granite quarries in Ballyknockan went out of business, including Reillys, which was then being run by Patrick Reilly's son, TM O'Reilly.



Mary Brady & William Osborne
Mary Brady & William Osborne

Brady and Osborne

In the following year, 1881, William Osborne married John Brady's eldest child, Mary.  This created a new partnership  - an alliance between the Brady and Osborne families - which was renewed in later generations by a number of marriages between closely related members of the Brady and Osborne families and which endured until the end of quarrying at Ballyknockan 85 years later.


The photo on the right shows Mary Brady and her husband, William Osborne, circa 1900.



This Brady-Osborne marriage represented a working alliance between the Brady and Osborne families and was one of three marriages between members of the Brady and Osborne families.

1886 - Brady and Osborne quarry workings
1886 - Brady and Osborne quarry workings

Due to the splitting up of the original quarry over previous decades, by 1880 the individual quarries were too small to be worked efficiently or to accommodate the large tripod cranes and other equipment then coming into use.  Furthermore, as each of the quarries had by 1880 extended to their physical boundaries, deep working was becoming necessary. 


The Brady and Osborne joint working of the quarry allowed them to spread their operations across the common legal boundary and to work a deeper level - the arrangement was that Brady worked the upper level (to the left side within the circle on the map) and Osborne worked the deeper sinking (to the right side within the circle on the map). 


National Library, Kildare Street, completed in 1890
National Library, Kildare Street, completed in 1890

Bradys are often associated with the construction of Churches in the era of Catholic Church-building in its post-emancipation phase. 


The most interesting building they completed was the National Museum-National Library complex of which was completed in 1890.  These two buildings sit either side of the Dail on Kildare Street and represent the architectural high point of granite in the buildings of Dublin 



Joe, Davy and John 'the Hawk' Brady

'Johnny' Brady died in 1895 and his share in the quarry and his house, 'Laurel Lodge' went to his son Joe Brady (1865 -1957), while his other sons Davy Brady and John 'the Hawk' Brady (1870 - 1930) of Hill View (the author's grandfather), continued to work in the quarry. 


The Brady - Osborne joint working of the quarry continued, and the family link continued, cemented by further marriages:-

  • John 'the Hawk' Brady (the author's grandfather) married a granddaughter of Robert Osborne, the father of William Osborne;
  • Joe Brady's daughter, Marjorie Brady, married her first cousin, Jim Osborne, who had succeeded William Osborne in 1904. 


Bradys remained quarrying at Ballyknockan until Joe Brady died of a heart attack in the quarry in 1957, aged 92. 




Created December 2012.