Genealogical and Historical Research Service in Ireland


Dividing Line

Henry McShane.

Henry McShane was born in Dundalk, County Louth, Ireland, in October 1830 the son of James McShane and Margaret McCartney. His family history, with some small help from my business, has been researched by a descendant so this short article briefly refers to his success in the USA.

In 1847 he emigrated to the United States on the Scotia departing Liverpool for Baltimore and soon obtained employment in a brass foundry in the latter town. Nine years later he opened Mc Shane's Bell Foundry in Baltimore. As well as bells it also for a while produced piping, plumbing fixtures etc. When the railroad followed the foundry to the area in 1895 it needed a name for the railroad stop. William James McShane, the son of Henry and vice-president of the foundry, gave it the name 'Dundalk' after his father's birthplace. Thus began the modern town of Dundalk, Maryland, USA.

McShane's Bell Foundry, Baltimore, Maryland
Source: The McShane Bell Foundry, Henry McShane Manufacturing Co., proprietors, Baltimore, Md, USA, catalogue, The Library of Congress.

It was stated in 1873 that:

'The firm has rapidly enlarged its sphere of operations, and is to-day one of the largest establishments of that character in the United States. The Works are located on North street, the building occupying a front two hundred and fifteen feet with a depth of one hundred and fifty feet. Two hundred and sixty hands are employed by the firm, of whom sixty are engaged in their Phoenix Iron Works, Holliday street, where six tons of iron are run down daily into light castings for plumbers' and machinists' use. Electroplating in silver and gold forms a very important feature of the work of this firm.' (Source: Howard, George Washington, The Monumental city: Its Past History and Present Resources, 1873, p.203)

 It was further stated that

'.... the reputation of the McShane Bells extends to all parts of the world, and their clear tones are heard from Maine to California, in Europe, Asia and South America, from the belfries of Churches, Cathedrals, Mission Chapels, Fire Stations, Factories, Schools, Steam Boats, &c. Messrs. McShane & Co. have not only the satisfaction which arises from individual success, but also of having built up an establishment which is of immense importance to Baltimore and is heralding throughout the world its name. They are literally ringing the Bells which call attention to us from near and afar, inviting the world "to come to us and buy." (ibid, p.475)

McShane's Church Bell
Source: The McShane Bell Foundry catalogue, op. cit. p.12 


McShane's Fire Alarm Bell
Source: Ibid, p.14

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© MP McConnon, MC Research, Seabank Road, Castlebellingham, Dundalk, County Louth, Ireland
(Original uploaded 10 September 2012) Last update 14 December 2022.