William Dargan

(1799—1867) railway contractor

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(1799–1867), industrialist. The son of a Carlow farmer, Dargan was educated in England, and trained as a surveyor there. Following experience gained under Thomas Telford in Wales, Dargan returned to Ireland and established himself as a road contractor. In 1831 he became the contractor for the Dublin to Kingstown railway line, the first in Ireland. Over the next two decades he constructed over 600 miles of railway line, the Ulster canal, and major improvements to Belfast's docks. In 1853 he organized the Irish Industrial Exhibition, was visited at home by Queen Victoria, but declined a baronetcy. However, the exhibition, and Dargan's later investments in textile manufacture, proved financially disastrous. He finally suspended payment on his debts the year before his death. His widow was subsequently granted an annual civil list pension of £100.

From The Oxford Companion to Irish History in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: European History.

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