Entrepreneur and Philosopher
Francis Carvill was born in the Mourne area of County Down in 1800. He came to Newry and was in his day the largest employer and most extensive trader in the port. He owned sawmills and a spade factory on Merchants Quay where the Canal Court Hotel now stands. He was the first entrepreneur to introduce shipbuilding to Newry. His ‘shipyard’ was on the ‘middlebank’; the space between the river and canal now used as a car park. The schooner Mary Anne was the first vessel built in his yard. He owned several vessels himself and some of these sailed between Warrenpoint and America. The Carvill Company acted as an emigration agent for those going to North America during the worst years of the Famine. His administrative office was at 9, Sugar Island.
There was hardly a major development in the town which Carvill was not involved in. The Newry Examiner, in 1844, reported: His persevering enterprise has contributed in an eminent degree to the commercial greatness of the prosperous town to which he does honour and his general liberality of hand and heart conduces to the comfort of the many who are engaged in the various branches of the great establishment over which he worthily presides.
He was a promoter and director of the Newry and Enniskillen Railway Company which opened the port of Newry to the middle of Ulster and as far as the Atlantic port of Sligo.
In 1845 Carvill went to London to negotiate with the absentee landlord, the Marquess of Anglesey, for land rights to allow construction by the Newry and Carlingford Railway and Dock Company. His vision was to build the Greenore Sea Dock and to service it through Newry.
He was a man of great civic spirit. He was one of the main fund raisers for the building and construction of the Convent of Mercy. He was Chairman of the relief fund for the wife and family of John Mitchel after Mitchel had been transported to Van Dieman’s land in 1848. He appears also on the list of subscribers to the Unitarian Church built on William Street in 1852.
Carville died on 15 April 1854 and is buried in the graveyard at St Mary’s Church.
Date of Unveiling: 15 February 2014
Location of plaque: Canal Court Hotel, Merchant’s Quay, Newry
Report of Plaque unveiling available HERE