Thomas Drew (architect)

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Sir Thomas Drew (18 September 1838 – 13 March 1910) was an Irish architect.


Thomas Drew was born in Victoria Place, Belfast. He was the son of the Rev. Thomas Drew and Isabella Drew (née Dalton). He was one of four sons and eight daughters of the couple, although most of the children died young. His sister, Catherine Drew, was a journalist and writer.[1] He was trained under Sir Charles Lanyon before moving to work in Dublin, where he became principal assistant to William George Murray. In 1865 he became the diocesan architect of the united dioceses of Down, Connor and Dromore in 1865, and from then on Church architecture was Drew's principal activity. He was consulting architect for both St. Patrick's Cathedral and Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin.[2]

Sir Thomas Drew circa 1870

Among other projects, he was responsible for the design of the Ulster Bank on Dame Street, Rathmines Town Hall (completed 1899) and the Graduates' Building at Trinity College.[3] He took an interest in historic buildings and was the first to draw serious attention to the architectural and historic importance of the St. Audoen's Church, Dublin's oldest parish church, in 1866. He produced detailed plans of the church for which he won an award from the RIAI, carried out excavations and drew up a paper on the church and its history.[4] From 1885 to 1892, Richard Orpen worked with him as a managing assistant.[5]

His most significant work in Belfast was St Anne’s Cathedral, completed in 1899.

He was knighted in the 1900 Birthday Honours and was inaugural president of the Royal Society of Ulster Architects, serving from 1901 to 1903. In addition, he was president of the RIAI, the RSAI and the RHA and held the chair in architecture at the National University of Ireland. He lived in Monkstown, Dublin.[6]

In his latter years Drew suffered from gout. He was affected by it in 1909 but returned to work by the beginning of 1910. In February 1910, he underwent an operation for appendicitis which left him in a critical condition, and he died on 13 March. He was buried in Deans Grange Cemetery.[7]


He married Adelaide Anne, sister of William George Murray, in 1871.[8]


  1. ^ O'Dwyer, Frederick (2009). "Drew, Sir Thomas". In McGuire, James; Quinn, James (eds.). Dictionary of Irish Biography. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  2. ^ Irish Builder, 15 June 1880
  3. ^ Obituary, Irish Builder no. 52, 19 Mar 1910, pp. 168-170
  4. ^ Crawford, John (1986). Within the Walls: The Story of St. Audoen's Church. Dublin: Select Vestry of the St. Patrick's Cathedral Group of Parishes.
  5. ^ Doyle, Carmel (2009). "Orpen, Richard Francis Caulfeild". In McGuire, James; Quinn, James (eds.). Dictionary of Irish Biography. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  6. ^
  7. ^ Irish Times, Dublin, Obituary, 14 March 1910
  8. ^ "Drew, Thomas" . Dictionary of National Biography (2nd supplement). London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1912.
Preceded by
Inaugural President
RSUA President
Succeeded by
WJ Gilliland