Thomas Hovenden was born in the Bridewell in 1840. His father, Robert Hovenden, was keeper of the Bridewell which served as a prison and a barracks. Thomas was orphaned at the age of 6 years and placed in an orphanage. At fourteen years of age he was apprenticed to a carver and gilder in Cork before going to London to study Art. He went to America in 1863 and attended lectures in the National Academy in New York. In 1874America where he achieved worldwide acclaim as a painter and his paintings continued to command widespread interest. In 1895 his career was tragically cut short when he was killed by a train when he went to save a small child crossing a railway line.