Building was in Willie Carroll's blood and one of his
first projects as an architect was to redesign the family
home at Ballybeg. His great-grandnephew, Eric Shaw, traces
the career of the Clarecastle man.
William R Carroll was born at Abbeyview, Ballybeg, on May
18, 1850. His father was William Carroll, builder and timber
merchant. His mother was Catherine Ryan of 10, The Mall,
Ennis. There were seven children in the family, four of
whom survived into adulthood. their father planted an apple
tree at Abbeyview on the birth of each child and that little
orchard, often raided by the children of Clarecastle, remained
there until 1976 when the house was sold out of the family.
Carroll Senior was connected with the construction of many
public buildings in Ennis. The O'Connell Monument,
the spire of Ennis Cathedral, Carrolls' Bridge, the
first Franciscan church, the metal bridge on the Quin Road,
Ennis Railway Station and the chapel and classrooms for
the Sisters of Mercy - now the County Museum - where some
of the works he undertook. He also built Ballyea Church
and some of the buildings associated with Ennis Workhouse.
Willie Carroll qualified as an architect and followed his
father into the family business. One of his early projects
was to redesign the family home at Ballybeg. This was a
single-storey thatched farmhouse dating back to about 1840.
he converted it into a two storey, three bay, gabled-ended
house with wallhead dormers and an unusual window design.
His best known building in Ennis is the present Franciscan
church. The church that had been built by his father in
the 1850s had become too small.
In 1879, Fr James White became superior of the order in
Ennis and conceived the idea of building a new church. Fundraising
started with trips to America and it became necessary to
buy additional land to gain access to the Causeway.
The Clare Journal of December 1, 1884, announced that William
Carroll Junior had designed the new church.
The plans had been placed for viewing by the public and
Carroll had designed the building on the gothic mixed with
some distinctly Irish features in white limestone. The first
Mass was celebrated in the new church in May, 1886, and
the Carroll family donated a number of stained glass windows
in memory of family members.
Willie Carroll married Kathleen Perry, daughter of William
Perry, in 1891. Kathleen had been born in Barrow in England
in 1870 but grew up in Ennis where he sister, Josephine,
was to become Mother Xavier of the Sisters of Mercy.
Willie's sister, Mary, had married George Perry of
Fomerla in 1884, thus doubling the connection with the Perry
The Carrolls moved to live at Bruges in Belgium where Willie
carried on his practic as an architect. But he kept up his
connection with Clare, coming to Lahinch each year for his
holidays and to visit his Carroll and Perry relatives. He
was a founder member of Lahinch Golf Club.
The Clare Journal of 11 April, 1910, made the following
announcement: With unfeigned regret, we have to announce
today the death of Mr William R Carroll, CE and architect,
son of the late Mr William Carroll, Ballybeg, Ennis, which
occurred on Friday from pneumonia, after a brief illness,
The news of his early demise will come as a shock to his
very many friends in his native county, for it was wholly
unexpected, the sad news following fast on the first intimation
of his illness.
Mr Carroll was associated, after he had completed
his apprenticeship, with his father in many works, in this
and other counties, and of those the best known is the handsome
Franciscan church of this town, which was built under his
supervision, and from his plans. He left Ennis to reside
in the Continent some years ago, but paid occasional visits
to Clare, with his family.
Mr Carroll's kindly, genial temperament made
him popular with all classes. Upright and straightforward
in character, one had but to know him to realise and full
appreciate his personal worth. He was a sterling friend
and, in many circles, the news of his passing away will
be heard with genuine sorrow. We tender our sincerest sympathy
to his bereaved widow and family in their great affliction.
The couple had two children, Louis and Yvonne. Following
Willie's death, Kathleen moved to London with the children.
Louis qualified as a doctor but died at the age of 28 during
an influenza epidemic.
Yvonne went into banking with Westminster Bank and retired
in October, 1949. She continued to have business interests
in Ennis and was annual visitor to the town, staying at
the old Ground Hotel until the early 1970s. She died in
Tonbridge Wells in November, 1984. She was the last of the
Courtesy of the Clare Champion