Farrell, Terence (1798–1876), sculptor, was born at Creve, Co. Longford, where his family ran a number of stone quarries. Nothing more is known of his parents except that in 1810 he moved with his mother to Dublin, where they joined his elder brother, then working there as a stone cutter. He received his training as a sculptor in the modelling school of the Dublin Society, where he studied under Edward Smyth (qv) and later under his son, John (qv). In 1821 he entered the studio of Thomas Kirk (qv), for whom he worked as an assistant for the next seven years. He began to work independently from 1828, establishing himself on Golden Lane and later moving to Peter St. In 1841 he opened a sculpture yard on Lower Mecklenburg St. This became the base for the family sculpture business as each of his six sons followed their father in his profession. In 1851 the yard was moved once more, to North Gloucester St. Lower.
Initially Farrell established himself as a sculptor of miniature portrait busts. His first exhibit at the RHA (1826) was a miniature portrait of George IV. He continued to produce such work throughout the following decade. A number of these miniatures were produced concurrently with his master Kirk's full-sized busts of the same sitters. In 1840 he applied unsuccessfully for the post of master of the modelling school of the Dublin Society; it was given instead to Constantine Panormo (c.1805–1852). This did, however, herald a widening of Farrell's ambition. From this time he began to seek commissions for monumental works. Though he submitted a design for the statue of Dean Dawson in St Patrick's cathedral, the commission was awarded to the English sculptor E. H. Baily. Nevertheless, from this period he began to produce works that proved his ability to work on a larger scale. A number of these were produced for Thomas Philip de Grey (qv) who served as lord lieutenant in Ireland 1841–4, and who was to become his most important patron. They included statues for the garden of de Grey's English home, Wrest Park. However, the whereabouts of these works is no longer known. Subsequent to de Grey's resignation from the lord lieutenancy for health reasons, Farrell was commissioned to execute a commemorative marble portrait bust for the RDS. In the early 1850s he was responsible for the dramatic funerary monument to de Grey's wife Henrietta (Church of St John the Baptist, Flitton, Bedfordshire), which depicts an emotional family scene, skilfully carved in relief, showing the influence of the English sculptor John Flaxman. Soon afterwards he received commissions for monuments to Henrietta de Grey's two brothers, John Willoughby Cole, 2nd earl of Enniskillen, and Gen. Sir Galbraith Cole (qv), both for St MacCartan's cathedral, Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh. Other notable examples of memorial sculpture by Farrell may be found in St Patrick's cathedral, Dublin, for which he carved memorials to the dead of the China and Burma wars in the early 1850s.
He was a regular exhibitor at the RHA and was elected an associate member in 1851, and a full member in 1859. He was also involved with the Society of Irish Artists, set up in 1842; this body restricted its membership to Irish artists in contrast to the RHA, which accepted work from foreign artists. In 1849 Farrell was appointed its auditor; however, it ceased to exist in the same year. Four works by him were shown at the Irish Industrial Exhibition of 1853 in Dublin.
He married (1819) Maria Ruxton; they had six sons. The eldest, James (1821–91), trained under his father, as did the second son, Joseph (1823–1904). Both exhibited regularly at the RHA from the later 1830s. In 1845 James was awarded a premium of £15 by the Royal Irish Art Union for his sculpture ‘The pet dove's return’, exhibited at the Royal Academy, London, in 1847. He was elected an associate member of the RHA in 1880 and a full member in 1882. He found his patrons mainly amongst the hierarchy of the catholic church. For the Church of Our Lady of Refuge, Rathmines, he executed a statue of ‘Our Lady of Refuge’ for the pediment, and another depicting ‘Christ in the Temple’. He also produced an ‘Annunciation’ for the church of St Francis Xavier, Gardiner St. James died 20 November 1891 in Dublin and was buried in the vaults of St Andrew's church, Westland Row, Dublin. Examples of Joseph's work may be found in the cathedrals of Dundalk and Waterford. Joseph died in 1904 and was buried in Glasnevin cemetery, Dublin. Terence Farrell's fourth son, John (1829–1901), was trained in the modelling school of the RDS and later studied drawing in the school of the RHA, where he was only an occasional exhibitor; he also exhibited on occasion in London between 1843 and 1855.
Terence Farrell died on 19 March 1876 at 11 Warrington Place, Dublin. Although he was a shy, reticent man whose lack of desire for self-promotion inhibited his chances of substantial financial success, his diligent application to his work ensured the respect of his peers and patrons. From the early 1860s he was overshadowed, as were his sons above mentioned, by the growing reputation of his most talented and successful son, Thomas Farrell (qv) which may in part account for the fact that his achievements, modest though they may be, have been, until more recently, considerably underrated.