The recent annual dinner of the Republic of Ireland Branch of the Institution of Civil Engineers, held in the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire, saw the announcement of Outstanding Achievement Awards recognising the careers of three exceptional civil engineers who have made a significant contribution to Ireland’s infrastructure and the advancement of the civil engineering profession here. Awards were made for 2020, 2021 and 2022, with the accolades for 2020 and 2021 having been deferred due to Covid-19. 

Keith Elliott, right, chair, ICE RoI region and Murt Coleman (FIEI), formerly of Irishenco Ltd

The Outstanding Achievement Award for 2020 was presented to Murt Coleman, a stalwart of the Irish civil engineering contracting fraternity, renowned not only for his enormous contribution to contracting in Ireland but also for his unstinting voluntary work in the furtherance of the civil engineering profession with Engineers Ireland.

Coleman is a Chartered Engineer and Fellow of Engineers Ireland, with a career in the civil engineering industry spanning almost 50 years. Graduating from University College Galway with a BE in civil engineering, his career spanned four decades at Irishenco, where he was site the agent/project manager.

Bridges and harbour works in Ireland and Africa

At Irishenco, he was responsible for the construction of major civil engineering projects including bridges and harbour works in Ireland and Africa. Notable projects include several award-winning bridges (the EastLink and WestLink bridges in Dublin, Mizen Head bridge and the Limerick University bridge over the Shannon) as well as Howth harbour and marina, Killybegs harbour development, Castletown harbour development, Tory Island pier, numerous marine works in Dublin Port and a dam in Co Donegal.

Coleman is also well known for his commitment to the civil engineering profession through his work with Engineers Ireland, where he has been actively involved with Council and the Executive as an elected member, as chairman of the Finance Committee for eight years and as secretary of the Engineers Club. His contributions to the work of the institution were honoured with a President’s Award at the Engineers Ireland Excellence Awards in 2017.

Nowadays he maintains his interest in engineering through participation as a member of the Engineers Ireland Civil Division committee, where as a contractor he has made a significant contribution to the workings and deliberations of the committee. He also represented the Civil Division as a member of the European Council of Civil Engineers and represents Engineers Ireland on NSAI’s Construction Standards Consultative Committee TC006.

As a member of the Gluas Light Rail for Galway committee, Coleman is a strong advocate and campaigner for light rail as an alternative means of transport that would reduce the chronic traffic congestion and pollution in Galway city.

L-R: Don McEntee (MIEI), former senior engineer and project manager, Dublin City Council; and Keith Elliott

The Outstanding Achievement Award for 2021 was presented to Don McEntee, another lifelong civil engineer who has left his mark on the civil engineering infrastructure of this country and tirelessly promoted the interests of the profession for more than half a century.

McEntee is a Chartered Engineer and long-time member of Engineers Ireland and the Institution of Civil Engineers. He has extensive engineering, project management and office management experience in roads, transportation, sanitary, civil, structural and municipal engineering.

Wide variety of projects in Ireland, Canada, Zambia, Tanzania and Nigeria

He graduated from University College Dublin in 1967 with a BE in civil engineering and a master's in sanitary engineering. He joined the consulting firm of De Leuw, Chadwick & O’hEocha as a design engineer and during his 11 years with the firm he worked on a wide variety of projects in Ireland, Canada, Zambia, Tanzania and Nigeria.

He spent the next five years in the commercial property development sector, as head of design for Lyon Industrial Estates Ltd and technical director with Hickey Construction Ltd.

Following a brief spell with another consultant, DeLap and Waller, in 1984 McEntee joined Dublin City Council where he was to remain for the next 25 years until his retirement in 2009. It was here that he made his most significant contribution to Irish infrastructure, developing a passion for all aspects of water and wastewater management, which he applied diligently to bring about major changes in the way that water runoff is managed in the Dublin region.

He was project manager for the Greater Dublin Strategic Drainage Study, covering seven local authorities in the Greater Dublin Area with a population of 1.2 million.

Responsible for SuDs

In conjunction with the Office of Public Works he managed flooding studies and the implementation of flood alleviation works for the Tolka and Dodder. Most importantly, he pioneered Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SuDs), and the adoption of SuDs across the Greater Dublin Area is largely down to him. As a result, it is now a standard planning condition and its implementation is reversing years of poor environmental practice in urban drainage.

In retirement, McEntee continues to pursue his passion, actively promoting the Integrated Constructed Wetlands (ICW) concept. ICWs can be a cost-effective way of dealing with pollution from domestic septic tanks and proprietary wastewater treatment systems.

In 2010 he was a member of a steering committee and technical working group that developed a guidance document on the use of ICWs for Farmyard Soiled Water and Domestic Wastewater Applications, which was published by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government; a number of these systems are being constructed around the country.

In addition to his professional engineering career, McEntee has served as vice-chair of Engineers Ireland’s Local Authority Vocational Group and as a member of the Benevolent Fund Committee.

He has also been involved with the ICE Republic of Ireland Committee for many years, including terms as chair and secretary and an extended stint as Republic of Ireland country representative to the European region of ICE, from which he stepped down at the end of last year. He also served a term as chair of the Association of Municipal Engineers in Ireland.

McEntee has a wealth of published work to his name, mostly technical papers and articles on his principal areas of interest – sanitation, drainage and water management. In addition, his book The Rivers Dodder and Poddle: Mills, Storms, Droughts and the Public Water Supply, co-written with Michael Corcoran and published by Dublin City Council in 2016, gives a history of the mills on these two Dublin rivers and the Waterworks at Bohernabreena.

The late Hank Fogarty

Finally, the Outstanding Achievement Award for 2022 was awarded posthumously to the late Hank Fogarty, a legendary figure in Irish contracting, who sadly passed away unexpectedly in May 2022.

Active member of civil engineering community spanned more than 50 years

A Chartered Engineer and Fellow of Engineers Ireland, Hank had more than 40 years’ practical experience in civil engineering and building construction, 38 of which were spent with the SIAC Group. In total, his career as an active member of the civil engineering community spanned more than 50 years.

Hank graduated from University College Dublin in 1967 with a BE in civil engineering and in 1971 he joined SIAC, the South of Ireland Asphalt Company as it was then known.

He directed SIAC’s civil engineering business from 1979 to 2009, serving as a director for 23 years during which time SIAC grew into one of Ireland's most successful construction groups.

He was responsible for SIAC's civil engineering and building business in the UK from 1987 to 2004 and for the purchase of Butler's Steel in 1996 and its re-branding and development as SIAC Butlers Steel Ltd. He also oversaw the SIAC Group's commercial development interests from 1994 to 2009.

Conciliator, mediator and arbitrator on several construction projects

On his retirement as managing director of SIAC Construction Ltd in 2009, Hank was appointed to the Dispute Resolution Board of Engineers Ireland, where he applied his vast experience for the benefit of the industry as conciliator, mediator and arbitrator on several construction projects. He also lectured in Trinity College Dublin, on the highly regarded postraduate diploma in construction law and contract administration.

Hank was actively involved in the Construction Industry Federation for more than 25 years, serving in various capacities including a term as its president in 2007 and 2008. He also served as president of the Civil Engineering Contractors Association. In 2014 he was appointed chairman of the Registration Board of CIRI, Construction Industry Registration Ireland.

Hank also played an active role in Engineers Ireland, as a member of the Accreditation Board as well as the Dispute Resolution Board previously mentioned.

With Hank’s passing, the civil engineering industry has lost a towering figure, an outstanding engineer and a true gentleman.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

The award was accepted by Hank’s son, Paul, on behalf of his family