Search billions of records on


Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)

Carlow Fire Brigade

A brief history.

A group of fire brigade men from Carlow Fire Brigade.
Picture is about 1940
Source: Dinny McDonald‎ Facebook.
Shay Lawlor  - I think the man in the suit is John Creed!
Dinny McDonald  - 1940,s my father Tony McDonald 3rd from the left. I think its Paddy Payne kneeling with the helmet Original Post from Dinny McDonald

1878 - 1900 

“We feel pleasure in announcing the formation of a volunteer Fire Brigade for Carlow in connection with the Carlow Rowing Club and Athletic Club and Racquet Court. At a preliminary meeting held a fortnight since, some 30 members were enrolled and application have been made to the Town Commission to supply a portion of an outfit, such as helmets and buckets for the Brigade.

At present the Town is dependent on the Military Fire engine, which has been freely placed at the disposal of the Commissioners by the authorities, but we hope before long to see the Town supplied with an engine of its own. The Brigade held their first practice at the Military Barracks on Monday, and on Thursday elected the Officers by Ballot ". • Major KD Tanner elected as Captain of the Volunteer Fire Brigade

A fighting force for Carlow was established in 1880. It was not until 1937 that £800 was raised by public subscription to purchase the first motorised appliance for the county. See Handing over of the Keys of IC2000 below.

Carlow Fireman c.1898

1879 The New Appliance, A Merryweather Paxton
It had a 6‐inch engine, and was worked by a 22‐man crew, producing 100 gallons a minute at one stroke per second; the side handles were folded for travelling. Weighing 30cwt. (1,524 Kg) laden, it was normally pulled by two horses but could be maneuvered by hand in confined spaces

A Second Example of a Merryweather Paxton. Merryweather and Sons of Tram Locomotive Works, Greenwich Works, London SE was a company producing steam fire and pump engines.

Fire Hose Reel from the Fire Escape Works of Southwark London.

1937 Carlow Fire Engine # IC 2000. The first V8 Engine type in Ireland and fitted with Simonis pump~ Assembled in William O'Neill's garage on Tullow Street, pictured here before being handed over to Carlow Urban Council.
(Picture courtesy of Sean O'Neill). Source: Michael Purcell Facebook.

The following is from a newspaper cutting:


We are asked to notify to residents in the County that in the event of a fire the Carlow Volunteer Fire Brigade will render every assistance possible, provided a pair of harness horses be sent in for engine when the alarm in given.

According to its edition of 20th September that year the new Fire Engine specially made for the Carlow Town Commissioners by Messrs Shand and Mason, London, which arrived in this Town last week was tested on Tuesday afternoon. “After a minute inspection of the Engine, which is well and tastefully fitted up, and provided with lamps, buckets, portable tank, several length of hose and all other requisites, a pair of horses was attached to the machine, was manned and then driven by Mr R G Johnston, at a smart pace, through the principal streets of the Town. The novel procession attracted a good deal of attention and a considerable crowd subsequently collected at the Quay to witness the test trial, which was considered satisfactory, although the engine was not worked to it’s full power. It is guaranteed to throw a jet of one hundred and thirty foot high”.

Carlow Fire Brigade crew with tender and crew outside Carlow Town Hall in 1898.

Source of Photo: Carlow County Museum.

Much credit is given to Mr. Thomas Murphy of the Cross along with others that the Fire Brigade became mechanised. As a member of the Urban District Council he campaigned and pushed for a fire brigade committee to be formed. A fund was established, the people of County Carlow made donations and the Council, both County and Urban supplemented it.

Handing over of the Keys of IC2000

Willie O’Neill 55, Tullow Street was awarded the contact to supply a fire engine for Carlow Fire Brigade and on August 1936, he travelled to London to place an order for a heavy-duty water pump with a firm in Wembley. Shortly afterwards, he purchased a Ford V8 engine and chassis from Cork. Over the following months, Willie assembled and mounted the pump and adapted the power transmission to the Ford gear box. William Purcell and Sons, coach builders, 86 Tullow Street, carried out the carpentry work on the substructure, which accommodated the hoses, extinguishers, axes and other gear, under a sub contract. Others involved who worked in the Garage at the time were Jim O’Brien, Johnny and Dick Hogan and Jack Dillon. The painting was carried out by John Kelly, particularly the lettering on both sides of the appliance. Following a few tests runs the fire appliance was handed over in June 1937.

In the photo we see U.D.C. chairman accepting the keys from William O'Neill. The vehicle was assembled and stored in his garage in Tullow Street and from there it had attended its first fire in Murphy's of Park. For months the U.D.C had debated whether it could afford to buy uniforms or hose for its volunteer force, now with its Simonis pump and V8 engine it became one of the best equipped fire brigades in the country.

In the background is John O'Brien, weigh master and caretaker. John was born and lived in rooms situated under the Town Hall; a cloths line is erected in his front porch

Source: Michael Purcell

RP Fire Brigade Station Merryweather Engine Reg IC 8878 Carlow Ireland. c.1915
Source: Ebay seller.

Green Lane c.1970

The view is from the Railway Bridge at Green Lane (above) in early 1970s, on the right, where the children are gathered, is the entrance to the Presentation School , Scoil Mhuire Gan Smal, on the left is portion of the new Fire Station. From Michael Purcell.
Note from M Brennan: The Carlow Fire Station in Green Lane was completed and opened in 1973. A new station was built on the same site in 2002.



A History of Carlow County Service:

The information contained in these pages is provided solely for the purpose  of sharing with others researching their ancestors in Ireland.
© 2001 Ireland Genealogy Projects, IGP TM By Pre-emptive Copyright - All rights reserved