Cill Rónáin Harbour on Inis Mór island has been named the Engineering Project of the Year in the annual Engineers Ireland Excellence Awards.
The €39 million harbour development was chosen from among seven shortlisted projects voted on by the public in an online poll as part of the third annual Engineers Ireland Excellence Awards in association with ESB.
Galway man John Killeen was also honoured at the awards, which took place last Friday, where he received the ESB Award for Outstanding Contribution to Engineering.
Joe Murphy from Punch Consulting Engineers, the firm behind the Cill Rónáin project, said it had already created huge economic and social value for the residents of the largest of the three Aran Islands.
“The new harbour’s benefits are wide-ranging and absolute to the local community,” Mr Murphy said. “It improves safety for residents, it supports tourist traffic to an island rich in cultural heritage, and it even makes life easier for fishermen who have businesses and work locally.
“The project embodies the best of engineering excellence. The facility is sheltered by a stone breakwater which is more than half a kilometre long. The harbour within has a marine working area that is actually twice the size of Croke Park. A large-scale physical model was constructed and tested in a UK hydro laboratory prior to construction at Cill Rónáin to ensure the most economical harbour construction,” Mr Murphy added.
“More than 77,000 tonnes of large natural stone blocks were sourced from Connemara to protect the breakwater from erosion, while the piers have been constructed from large concrete blocks up to 23 tonnes in weight. Moreover, significant environmental monitoring was employed throughout the construction process, including a marine mammal observer who was present over the course of the project to watch for seals and dolphins during blasting works.”
John Power, Engineers Ireland director general, congratulated Punch Consulting Engineers and BAM Civil, which delivered the project, saying the construction is now an essential support to the island’s community.
“By improving safe access to the island and providing shelter from the often hazardous ocean waves that have challenged local residents over the ages, the redeveloped Cill Rónáin Harbour is a true example of engineering ingenuity dramatically improving the quality of local, everyday lives,” Mr Power said. “The construction benefits the Inis Mór community hugely and, in effect, sustains the strong local heritage of Irish culture and language that is very unique to the island.”
“Once again this year, all the shortlisted entries highlight the contribution the engineering sector makes to Ireland,” added Mr Power.
The other projects shortlisted for the award were Clonmel Flood Relief Scheme, Etihad Skyline Croke Park Stadium, the Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre, the Michael O’Shaughnessy Bridge, Portrane, Donabate, Rush, Lusk Waste Water Treatment Scheme, and the Titanic Building, Belfast. The winner was chosen in an online public vote to select what people considered to be the project that has most benefited Irish society.