Tassie

- of Three Castles, Golden Hill and Dublin

William Tassie was born in Scotland in 1742, near Glasgow; and the parish records of St Mary’s Church, Blessington, record his death in 1827, aged 85.

 

William is almost certainly the younger brother of James Tassie, born in 1735, who trained as a stonemason before coming to Dublin in 1763.  He lived at Nassau Street, where he perfected a technique of cameo making, before moving to London in 1766. 

 

William Tassie most likely first came to Ireland around the same time as his brother and leased a quarry at Three Castles from the Blessington Estate.

 

Threecastles quarry was a 'hillside quarry', which means that only weathered, well fissured granite lying close to the surface was extracted - when they encountered hard stone, the quarrymen moved on. 

 

'Hillside' quarrying was superseded by the development of 'face quarries' around 1770 in Scotland.  William Tassie's Scottish link may have introduced the new technique to Ireland via Blessington, and William Tassie moved his operation to a new face quarry at Golden Hill in the 1770s or early 1780s.

 

When the lease on Golden Hill expired in 1796, George Ponsonby took over as landlord and Daniel Doyle replaced Tassie at Golden Hill quarry.

 

Threecastles in 1838.  The hilside quarries abandoned in 1770s are circled.  The face quarries of the 1820s are in rectangles.  The entrance road starts at the tip of arrow.
Threecastles in 1838. The hilside quarries abandoned in 1770s are circled. The face quarries of the 1820s are in rectangles. The entrance road starts at the tip of arrow.

Each of the former hillside-quarry workings at Threecastles was still identifiable in 1838 and appeared on the first OS map.  Each former working is circled in red on the 1838 map on the left, even though they had been abandoned 70 years and more by then. 

 

The original entrance road to the site started at the tip of the red arrow.

 

By 1810 William & James Tassie, sons of the original William, were living operating as 'stone-cutters' in Dublin, supplying granite to the construction projects in the city. 

 

In 1820, 'John & Hugh Tassie, builders, Bridge St, Dublin', tendered for the construction of the bridge at Poulaphouca.

 

 

 

Meanwhile, in County Wicklow:- 

  • The quarry at Golden Hill faced closure after the expiry of the lease and the death of the estate owner, George Ponsonby, in July 1817.
  • Probably in anticipation of the closure of Golden Hill and so as to secure a supply of granite for the family’s ‘Stone Cutter’ business in Dublin, John Tassie (1783 - 1829) commenced to work the old quarry at Woodend, but was burned out in 1821. 
  • At this point Tassies retreated to the old site at Threecastles and opened a new face-quarry, to the south of the abandoned earlier hillside quarries.  This phase of face-quarrying at Threecastles is noted on the map by the two small quarries marked by red rectangles, and this was a very small operation in comparison to Golden Hill. 

 

The opening of the new quarry at Ballyknockan in 1824 resulted in the final collapse of Tassie's quarrying operations and the Tassie brothers in Dublin had ceased to trade as Stone Cutters by 1826.

 

After 1826, George Tassie remained at Threecastles, but farming rather than quarrying.  He ceased paying rent on his land in 1845 and in 1848 he surrendered his holding to the Blessington Estate.  He retired to Blessington,  where he died in 1867, aged 88.

 

 

 

 

Created by John Hussey in May 2012.  Edited December 2014.