Charles Bianconi was born in Tregolo, in the Duchy of Milan, Italy on 26th September 1785. He came to Ireland in 1802 and was apprenticed to an Italian print-seller named Andrea Faroni in the Temple-bar area of Dublin. He travelled on foot around Ireland selling prints mostly in Munster and Leinster. In 1806 he set up a shop in Carrick-on-Suir, in a small lane opposite the Ormond Castle as a picture frame maker and gilder. He supplied his shop in Carrick with gold leaf from Waterford, going down in Tom Morrissey’s boat to buy it. Carrick-on-Suir was thirteen miles from Waterford by road but was twenty-four by water due to the bends in the river. The departure time depended on the tide and took four to five hours to make the journey. At the age of 21 he moved to Waterford and sold his wares in Georges St. He made many influential friends, one of whom was Edmund Ignatius Rice, the founder of the Christian Brothers. Edmund helped him in his understanding of the English language.
In 1809 he moved to Clonmel and set up as a first class Carver and Guilder at No1 Gladstone Street. It was on his frequent travels from Clonmel to Waterford, carrying four stone (twenty five Kg) of pictures on his back, that he realised the concept of coach travel. In 1840 he had one hundred coaches on the road, performing daily 3,800 miles, at an average charge of 1 ¼ d per mile for each passenger, and at a speed of up to nine miles an hour. At its peak there were one hundred cars, one hundred and forty stations, one hundred drivers, thirteen hundred horses providing cheap and regular transport between the main towns and cities. Hearn’s hotel in Clonmel, Anthony’s Inn in Piltown and Cummins Hotel on the Quay in Waterford (now the Granville Hotel) were Bianconi way stations. To this day in Carrick-on-Suir a number of stables and a cobbled floor are still intact and remain hidden behind a wall and an original stone arch. As you walk down Oven Lane from the Main St they are on the first left lane before the Quay. Local historians claim that this was his first stable even though his first car run was in 1815 between Clonmel and Cahir in Co Tipperary.
Charles became a naturalised Irish citizen in 1831 and was the Mayor of Clonmel twice. In 1832 he married Eliza Hayes and they had on son, Charles and two daughters Kate and Mary Anne. In 1834 he invested a lot of money in railways because he knew they were the future and he still made a lot of money bringing people to and from the railways. In 1835 he became a Director of the Waterford and Limerick Railway Co and in the same year he became a Director of Daniel O’Connell’s (The Liberator) newly founded National Bank; the first branch was opened on the present Bank of Ireland site on 28th January 1835 on Main St Carrick-on-Suir. He died in 1875 aged eighty-nine and a very wealthy man. He is buried in the family mortuary chapel in Boherlan, Cashel which he designed and partially constructed himself.