John Benson (architect)

Sir John Benson ICE (1812 17 October 1874) was an Irish architect, born in Collooney, County Sligo. Although most of his work was in Cork, he was knighted for his design for the Dublin Great Industrial Exhibition.

John Benson
Cathedral of St. Mary and St. Anne, Cork
Died17 October 1874
Alma materRoyal Dublin Society School of Architectural Drawing
Spouse(s)Mary Clementine Pyne (m. 1849)
ProjectsRestoration of Markree Castle in Collooney
DesignMain pavilion for the Great Industrial Exhibition in Dublin, 1853


John Benson was born in Collooney, Co. Sligo, in 1812. At the age of twenty-one he was sent by Edward Joshua Cooper of Markree Castle, to 'a technical school in Dublin', presumably the Royal Dublin Society's School of Architectural Drawing.[1] Early work included the restoration of Markree Castle in Collooney,

Benson passed his surveyor's examination in 1846 and worked as county surveyor for Cork and was involved in the relief work during the famine of 1847. In 1848 he was appointed of consulting engineer to the Cork Harbour Board and improved the navigation of the river. He was architect for the 1852 Irish Industrial Exhibition[2] and won the competition to design the Exhibition Building for the Great Industrial Exhibition (1853) in Dublin. He was knighted for his work at the 1853 exhibition.

Benson was a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers.[3] He was engineer and architect for the Cork and Macroom Direct Railway and the Rathkeale & Newcastle Railway.[1] He also supervised the refurbishment of the Theatre Royal, Cork in the 1860s.

Architectural works

  • The Firkin Crane building was designed by Sir John Benson and opened in 1855. The building is a unique rotunda, which formed part of Cork's original Butter Exchange, and currently houses the Butter Museum.
  • The Atheneum (Cork Opera House (1855) used as a template the design for the exhibition buildings at the Irish Industrial Exhibition.[4]
  • St. Patrick's Bridge, Cork (1861)
  • The Western Tower over the main door of the North Chapel in Cork was designed by Benson.[5]



 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Benson, George Vere (1885). "Benson, John". In Stephen, Leslie (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. 4. London: Smith, Elder & Co.

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