John Donegan Dublin Silver Pocket Watch
This John Donegan Dublin silver pocket watch is numbered 12434. The hallmark is Dublin 1865 (three years after John’s death) Two shops in Dublin are recorded, one of them in Dame Street.
He was born in 1794 and was unusual amongst Irish watch makers: a devout Catholic and Irishman, presumably of Irish birth although a few of the same surname are recorded in London, Bristol and Edinburgh.
Technically the watch is an English Fusee lever – you can get some explanation about its position in the evolution of pocket watches HERE
You can get a good idea of what Dublin was like in the 1860s by clicking HERE The railways were beginning to make an impression on everyday life and people wanted to know the time.
Between about 1835 – 39 John traded from 19 Lower Exchange Street. In 1840 he is listed at 25 Essex Quay and then by 1850-53 at 5 Ormond Quay and finally around 1860 until 1924 at 32 Dame Street, Dublin. John’s watch finishing books still survive.
www,clockswatches.co.uk gives the following information.
The address at Dame Street was described in detail in local sources;-
“The premises in Dame Street comprise an admirably arranged establishment, with a street frontage of twenty- four feet by a depth of ninety-five feet. The shop itself is handsomely appointed, and, with the various articles for sale arranged in an artistic way, forms a very striking exhibition. There is, too, always a fine show in the windows of watches, plate, Sheffield ware, and church ornaments, a large stock of which is to be seen within. In the workshops and factories from forty to fifty skilled hands are kept continually employed in manufacturing and repairing watches. Only skilled and experienced men are employed, which is a guarantee for the excellence of the workmanship turned out. There is a splendid and valuable collection of silver plate in the newest and latest styles. The stock on hand consists of spoons, forks, tankards, mugs, jugs, biscuit and sardine boxes, cruets, spirit stands, epergnes, and many other articles of electro ware, all most beautifully executed and finished. The prices will be found as low and as reasonable as is at all compatible with retail value. “
John Donegan has been variously described as a watchmaker and jeweller, a watch manufacturer, watch and church plate manufacturer and, in 1845 as an importer of jewellery, watches and watch material. He was registered with the Dublin Goldsmiths Company in 1848 and exhibited “gold and silver watches” at the Irish Industrial Exhibition of 1853”. John also supported many charitable and church institutions.
Patrick had a son also named Patrick (born 1829) and he carried on his father’s business and also, later that of John Donegan (who he described as his brother) until 1924 – Patrick (II) died in 1926.