Carroll, Patrick James (1803–79), tobacco manufacturer, was born 23 December 1803 in Dundalk, Co. Louth, only son of James Carroll, farmer, and his second wife, Anne, daughter of Nicholas Marmion, a merchant in Dundalk, and Elizabeth Marmion (née Boylan). He received a basic education before being apprenticed to the tobacco manufacturing business of his cousin, James Carroll, based at Earl St., Dundalk. In 1824 Patrick James founded his own tobacco manufacturing firm, P. J. Carroll & Co., at 38 Church St., Dundalk. The enterprise was initially modest, manufacturing roll, common roll, pigtail chewing tobacco, and snuff, with a small number of tobacco hand-presses. The business grew by his improving quality and ploughing profits back into the firm. He subsequently extended the factory through the purchase of adjoining premises at 39 Church St. He also rented land, dealt in livestock and farm produce, and manufactured candles and soap till the spread of gas lighting made wax candles redundant. The new railway networks that had reached the north and west by 1844 enabled him to penetrate a far wider market and his tobacco products became known throughout Ireland and made their first appearance in Britain in the growing industrial city of Liverpool in 1851. By 1853 they had also found their way south to Kilkenny, Carlow, and Cork. When he started his firm in 1824 turnover was less than £1,000 but by the time he retired in the 1860s it had grown more than tenfold.
A firm believer in charity without ostentation, he helped many causes in Dundalk, including those that resulted in the building of St Patrick's, the church of St Nicholas, the Sisters of Mercy school and convent, and St Mary's College. He was also president of the local St Vincent de Paul Society. He married (29 October 1828) Esther (d. 1902), daughter of James Gilmor and his wife Jane (née Sibthorpe). They lived in premises beside the factory on Church St., Dundalk, and had five sons and six daughters. He died at home 5 May 1879 and is buried at Castletown cemetery, Dundalk.
His third son, Vincent Stannus Carroll (1848–1914), tobacco manufacturer, was born 5 May 1848 in Dundalk and educated at the local convent and Tullabeg school, Co. Kildare (1859–64). A man of great energy, he joined his father's business in 1864 and immediately proposed ideas for modernising the factory and running of the firm. His father was initially unenthusiastic about modernisation and only relented when Vincent Stannus contemplated emigrating to the USA. Initially concentrating on expanding capacity, he extended the factory in 1877 with the purchase of adjoining premises and the introduction of new machinery powered by steam. After the death of his father he became the principal (1879–1914) of the firm. Under his father production had been exclusively by hand, which limited output. Vincent Stannus adopted the most modern methods of production, which allowed him consistently to increase output and improve quality. This in turn facilitated the penetration of markets in Ireland, England, and Scotland during the 1880s and 1890s. Between 1888 and 1892 Vincent Stannus oversaw a major expansion of the factory at Dundalk, and between 1898 and 1908 sales doubled.
The early 1900s witnessed a fundamental change in smoking habits as cigarettes began to replace pipe smoking. Vincent Stannus saw the trend early on, transforming production at Dundalk with the installation (1905) of a machine for producing cigarettes. He met head-on the threat posed by an alliance of English companies designed to dominate the British and Irish markets, by building new factories at Dundalk and Glasgow.
Although a private man by nature he was involved in local administration through his positions on the boards of town commissioners and harbour commissioners. A natural athlete, he was a member of Dundalk Rugby Football Club and a founder member of Dundalk Rowing Club (February 1885). In his later years he became a distinguished yachtsman and won several regattas with his yacht St Agnes. In 1896 he became a founding member of Greenore Golf Club and subsequently captained the club in 1907. He was also a founder of both the Dundalk Orchestral Society and the Dundalk Club. He married (1883) Catherine Mary, daughter of Luke McGivney of Collon, Co. Louth, and his wife Anne (née Greene). They had five sons and six daughters and lived at Dundalk House, Dundalk, Co. Louth. He died 5 March (not May, as in Burke, IFR) 1914 at Church St., Dundalk.
His eldest son James Marmion Gilmor Carroll (1884–1962), tobacco manufacturer and company director, was born 23 October 1884 in Dundalk. Educated at the CBS, Dunleer, Co. Louth and St Augustine's College, Ramsgate, England, he entered P. J. Carroll & Co. at the age of 16, becoming head of the family firm when his father died in 1914. Vincent Stannus had made provision in his will for the business to be incorporated as a limited liability company and he urged his sons to devote their whole time and attention to its management. James Marmion Gilmor thus presided as managing director (1914–57) at the first board meeting of P. J. Carroll and Co. Ltd. During the first world war Carroll continued the expansion initiated by his father, and launched a new cigarette in Scotland in 1919. ‘Flow gently, sweet Afton’ (from the poem ‘Afton water’ by Robert Burns, whose eldest sister Mrs Agnes Gault was buried in the graveyard opposite the factory) was the inspiration for the new product. The brand Sweet Afton, with a medallion of Burns and lines from the poem on the packet, helped increase Carroll's market share in the Scottish lowlands. The success of this venture contributed to the opening of a new factory at Liverpool and a new distribution centre in Cork (1923), and the acquisition of T. P. & R. Goodbody (1929). Manufacturing was extended to Newry in 1934 and the company floated on the stock market with James Marmion becoming chairman (1934–60) and joint managing director (1934–57) with younger brother Walter John. The board of directors also consisted of his brothers, Vincent Benedict and Charles Anthony, as well as Henry Guinness (qv) and solicitor Arthur Cox (qv). Retiring in 1957 as joint managing director, he stepped down as chairman in 1960 and became the first president of the company. In addition to his involvement with the family business he was a director of the Celtic Insurance Co. Ltd, the Great Northern Railway, the Provincial Bank of Ireland, and Irish Dunlop Ltd.
Apart from his career in industry he was deeply involved in charitable work through the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, of which he was created a knight of honour and devotion, rising to be president (1958–62) of the Irish association of the order. In 1955 he was created a knight commander of St Gregory the Great; six years later he attended the throne of Cardinal McIntyre of Los Angeles at the Patrician ceremonies at Armagh (1961). He married (date unknown) Helena, daughter of Patrick Hearn, of London. They had one daughter, Grace (1919–99), and lived at Killineer House, Co. Louth. He died 1 September 1962 at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda, Co. Louth.