Ireland c. 1797–1800

Vincenzo’s Dublin period is difficult to pin down, but writers have frequently asserted that he met Richard Tobin, a native of Cork who was employed by Thomas Perry in 1789, while working in Dublin and correspondence from Dr W. Graham dating from the early 20th century, now housed in the National Archives, Dublin, states that Vincenzo made instruments for the Duke of Leinster while in the city. Vincenzo’s move to Ireland may have resulted from a connection with the Parisian maker Claude Pierray, who is believed to be related to the Perry family through a descendant who moved to Kilkenny. In 1741 Thomas Perrie, or Pierray, opened a violin shop in Dublin which his son, Thomas Perry Jr, continued.

Vincenzo is also listed as working in Cork in John Teahan’s A List of Irish Makers published in the Galpin Society Journal in 1963, but no evidence is given as to the source. However, further support is provided by a letter from the granddaughter of the Cork instrument maker Bartholomew Murphy.[26] She states that Vincenzo worked in Cork for Murphy for three years from 1797, and that he made many violins, violas and cellos there. This was a time of growing anti-French sentiment in London as fears of a Napoleonic invasion spread, leading to many arrests. Perhaps Vincenzo felt intimidated in the same way as Viotti, who had fled in 1798 to Hamburg.

If Vincenzo was in Ireland at this time he would have experienced further turmoil influenced by the revolution he had so recently escaped from in Paris. In 1791 the Society of United Irishmen dedicated to an independent Ireland was established; war broke out between England and France in February 1793; and as tensions rose France launched a Expédition d’Irlande in December 1796, landing 14,000 troops in the south-west in their support. It failed and martial law was established the following year but by mid-1798 rebellion was raging in the south-east of the country. Perhaps a cello recorded in the National Archives, Dublin, bearing a manuscript label stating ‘Vincenzo Panormo/fecit Kilkenny/Irelande, 1799’ charts Vincenzo’s return from Cork to Dublin. Whatever the exact timing, it is in Dublin that, according to Francesco, Vincenzo made instruments from the wood of an old billiard table, resulting in those made from this distinctive wood being ascribed to this period.

It is unclear if Vincenzo’s sons accompanied him to Ireland but the family undoubtedly forged strong ties with Dublin. Francesco was to put down roots there a couple of decades later; Joseph’s son Edward Ferdinand appears to have worked there in 1834; and five years later George’s sister in Dublin complained that some money she had posted to him in Liverpool had not arrived.

  • The distinctive wood of this viola by Vincenzo is said to have been taken from an old billiard table in Dublin
  • The distinctive wood of this viola by Vincenzo is said to have been taken from an old billiard table in Dublin