Denny Lane Papers

Repository: Cork City and County Archives

Identity Statement

TitleDenny Lane Papers
Archive ReferenceIE CCCA/U611
Web Link to this Entry
Creation Dates1833-1895
Extent Medium154 items + additional material (1 box)


Creator(s): Lane, Denny (c1818-d1895), politician, businessman, lyricist, engineer

  • Administrative History ↴

    Born Cork 1818. Attended Porter and Hamblin’s School in Cork (U611/1 – U611/2) and received a scholarship to study at Trinity College Dublin and was later called to the Bar (U611/62). Involved in Daniel O’Connell’s repeal and reform movements and with the Trinity College Dublin Historical Society, Lane associated with such figures as Thomas Davis, Michael Joseph Barry, John Blake Dillon and Charles Gavan Duffy, and began writing, mainly poetry, for The Nation newspaper, usually under the name ‘Donal na Glanna’. Lane returned to Cork in 1843 to assist in the running of the Glynstown Distillery, Riverstown, County Cork, which he inherited along with substantial lands following the death of his father in 1845 (U611/17). Arrested and imprisoned under the Habeas Corpus (Suspension) Act 1848 and held for 4 months in Cork City Gaol. Following his 1848 débacle, Lane mostly retired from active politics for over 2 decades to concentrate instead on his businesses and work with the Gas Company, although he served briefly as a Town Councillor for the North East Ward of Cork City in 1854-55. The death in 1872 of Lane’s friend and political ally John Francis Maguire M.P. led him to re-enter politics by expressing his support for his close friend, Home Rule candidate Joseph Ronayne (U611/55). In the 1874 election, Lane continued to support Ronayne, even against his old comrade John Mitchel. At this time he joined the Irish Home Rule League (U611/56). Lane delivered a noted funeral oration on the death of Ronayne in 1876, which it has been suggested may have been studied by Padraig Pearse for his own key oration at the grave of O’Donovan Rossa at Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin, in 1915. Lane stood in the election for Ronayne’s former seat, however the popular vote was split with a fellow Home Ruler and the seat went to a conservative candidate (U611/57). Following this, Lane removed himself permanently from politics. Lane, in common with his contemporaries, had a dream of improving Ireland through industry and had referred to the need for a revival of manufacture, education, and political independence in his speeches during the 1840’s (U611/42). He was instrumental in the amalgamation of various Cork distilleries under the title of the Cork Distillers’ Company in the late 1860’s, and was a major organiser of the 1883 Cork Exhibition (U611/97). In that year he also established the Silversprings Starch Works at Knocknahorgan, Glanmire, County Cork which remained open until the late 1920’s (U611/99). In the later decades of his life, aside from his work with the Gas Company, Lane remained active in business as deputy chairman of the Macroom Railway Company and as a director of the Cork Blackrock and Passage Railway Company. He was also a Member of Cork Harbour Board, where he represented brewing and distilling interests. Lane was extensively involved in the artistic and cultural life of Cork City, at one time or another associated with the Schools of Art, Design and Science, the Cork Literary & Scientific Society, Cork Catholic Young Mens’ Society, Cork Naturalists’ Field club, the Cork Cuverian Society, and the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society. Secretary and Resident Engineer for the Cork Gas Company from about 1865 to his death in 1895. Lane is particularly remembered for penning the lyrics to the famous ballad ‘Carrigdhoun’.
  • Archival History ↴

    The Denny Lane Papers were deposited in the Archives in 2003.
  • Immediate Source Acquisition ↴


Content & Structure

  • Scope & Content: Lane, Denny (c1818-d1895), politician, businessman, lyricist, engineer ↴

    Lane’s early life is documented in the collection by 2 school report books, from Porter and Hamblin’s School in Cork, showing his consistently excellent marks in most subjects (U611/1 – U611/2).

    The collection is of particular interest for those studying the nationalist political and cultural activity in the mid-19th century, especially The Nation newspaper and the Young Ireland movement. It contains a significant amount of political correspondence related to some of the nationalist figures and events of the 1840’s and later on in the 19th century.

    Lane’s friendship and political association with Thomas Davis is documented by letters to Lane in 1843/1844, mainly concerning content for The Nation, and written in a most familiar tone (U611/6 – /9, /11). Also present are letters written to Davis by other figures, such as Michael Doheny (U611/5) and Thomas Wallis, (U611/4) which Lane may have acquired for study.

    Correspondence of Lane’s cousin, Daniel Owen Madden, includes a letter mentioning a visit by Daniel O’Connell (U611/13) and another from Thomas Wallis concerning a publication of the life of Thomas Davis (U611/14).

    Lane’s earlier association with Charles Gavan Duffy is documented by a few letters from 1842 to 1849, relating to The Nation, the Irish Confederation and the Young Ireland movement, including the disagreements and splits in the Repeal movement in 1846-1847 (U611/21) and following the period of the government’s suppression of the Confederate Clubs (U611/23). The 1848 revolutions in Europe sparked much excitement in Ireland, as evidenced by a letter from Duffy to Lane in March 1848 (U611/22). Lane resigned from the Repeal Association in September 1846 (U611/40), with the rest of the Young Irelanders, and in October John Mitchel (later, publisher of the United Irishman) asked Lane to contribute to a section of The Nation newspaper with the title ‘Young Ireland’ (U611/42). Clues as to Lane’s political activities in 1846 may be found in his correspondence with Sir David Roche, accused of mistreating his tenants by Lane in a public statement (U611/35).

    The collection contains some correspondence from William Smith O’Brien, M.P. mainly concerning O’Brien’s impending visit to Cork with Thomas Francis Meagher, and the organisation of the Irish Confederation in Cork and nationally (U611/26, /27). Of particular note is a letter from Denny Lane in April 1848 describing the political situation in Cork (U611/28). The sense of crisis in Ireland during the Great Famine in 1847 is evidenced in a letter from O’Brien to Michael Joseph Barry (U611/25).

    The remainder of the 1840’s political correspondence includes one or two items from various figures, including Richard O’Gorman (U611/39, /48), T. Devin Reilly (U611/43), Thomas D’Arcy McGee (U611/45), Terence Bellew McManus (U611/46), Thomas Mathew Halpin (U611/49), Thomas England (U611/50), Richard Deasy (U611/51), and John Martin (U611/54). These items mainly relate to the organisation of the Confederate Clubs. A few much later letters show Lane’s ongoing contact with Gavan Duffy, mainly in connection with the latter’s literary work on the Young Irelanders (U611/58 – U611/60).

    The Collection also contains material of a more personal nature, such as, a list of members of the Munster Bar (U611/62), a letter from a friend concerning a fishing trip on the River Lee (U611/65), a letter from Eugene Curry of the Royal Irish Academy concerning the genealogy of the O’Liathain family (U611/66), and also some draft notes and writings by Lane (U611/69). Also found are a small number of lyrics which document Lane’s great interest in poetry and music, including lyrics of ‘The Lament of the Irish Maiden, A Brigade Ballad’, also known as ‘Carrigdhoun’ (U611/72b). Also found are printed garlands of song lyrics from pre-1850 (U611/76 – /79).

    Denny Lane’s extensive business activities are not well documented in the collection, apart from a settlement with his creditors in 1855 (U611/81), and a Patent for an invention to improve gas production in 1865 (U611/82).

    Lane’s extensive involvement in the artistic and cultural life of Cork is not well documented in the collection, although some items hint at Lane’s cultural and literary interests (U611/9, /125).

    The collection contains a large amount of correspondence for the period 1881-1893 concerning his work as Secretary and Resident Engineer for the Cork Gas Company. Most items are related to the administration of the Gas Works (U611/104, /114) and Lane’s visits abroad, where he updated his knowledge of the latest gas and electrical technology (U611/83, 105). The material includes mention of Thomas Alva Edison’s electrical equipment (U611/94, /110). Lane also gives a few accounts of his speeches to the Institute of Gas Engineers (U611/85, /128).

    Also found in the collection is a small amount of correspondence relating to Lane’s wife, Mary Francis. She may have shared Denny Lane’s noted wit (U611/46). Mary received a number of letters from Charles Gavan Duffy in Nice, France, after the death in November 1895 of her ‘generous and gifted husband’, of whom Duffy writes he ‘never met a more honorable or upright man. He was one of a class not growing plenty in Ireland…who thought always first of the country, and last of himself…’ (U611/151).

  • Appraisal Destruction ↴

    Permanent Retention
  • Arrangement ↴

    A: SCHOOLING (1833-1835) (2 ITEMS)
    B: POLITICAL CORRESPONDENCE (1840-1849, 1873-1894) (59 ITEMS)
    (i) Thomas Davis (1840-1844) (9 items)
    (ii) Daniel Owen Madden (1842-1848) (4 items)
    (iii) Charles Gavan Duffy (1842-1849) (9 items)
    (iv) William Smith O’Brien (1847- 1848) (5 items)
    (v) Relating to Imprisonment (1848) (4 items)
    (vi) Regarding the David Roche Affair (1846) (5 items)
    (vii) Other Correspondence relating to 1840’s politics (16 items)
    (viii) Later Material (6 items)
    D. BUSINESSMAN (1855 – 1865) (2 ITEMS)
    (i) Correspondence from Denny Lane (1881-1893) (48 items)
    (ii) Correspondence to J.O’Mahony, Cork Gas Company. (1879-1894) (14 items)
    (iii) Mary Francis Lane, Wife (1881-c.1895) (10 items)

Conditions of Access & Use

Access Conditions Open by appointment to those holding a current readers ticket.
Creation Dates1833-1895
Extent Medium154 items + additional material (1 box)
Material Language ScriptEnglish
Finding Aids Descriptive list Archive Web Link →

Allied Materials

Copies InformationMicrofilm copy also available for consultation.
Related MaterialIn CCCA: U15b Hewitt Correspondence Cork Gas Company RecordsOther locations: MSS relating to Charles Gavan Duffy, William Smith O’Brien and other nationalist figures in the National Library of Ireland and in the Royal Irish Academy. Material in Cork Public Museum.

Descriptive Control Area

Archivist NoteBrian McGee
Rules/ConventionsISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description. 2nd ed. Ottawa: International Council on Archives, 2000.
Date of Descriptions2005