Thursday, 2 February 2012

Civic Welcome to Carlow

On a visit to Carlow last week I was honoured with a Civic Welcome in Carlow Town Hall by the Council Chairman Tom O’Neill MCC on behalf of the Carlow Local Authorities. I was visiting Carlow on a very busy round of engagements organised by Carlow County Council Director John Carley on behalf of the South East Region of Engineers Ireland. I also unveiled a monument in the town to former Trinity Professor of Biomedicine Samuel Houghton a native of Carlow town. I also did interviews with Carlow local radio in both English and Irish. My primary objective in coming to Carlow was to support Carlow County Council, Carlow IT and local industry all of whom are working in partnership to create local jobs.

Carlow Town Council Chairman Cllr Tom O’Neill MCC making presentation to PJ Rudden on behalf on the Carlow Local Authorities in Carlow Town Hall. Also in attendance from left to right Tom Barry Carlow County Manager, Damien Owens Registrar Engineers Ireland, Cllr Jennifer Murnane O’Connor MCC, Brian O’Leary Associate RPS, John Carley Director of Environment Carlow County Council, Dan McInerney Director of Transportation, Cllr Eileen Brophy, Aisling Buckley Resident Engineer RPS, Dr Norman McMillan Secretary National Science and Engineering Commemorative Plaques Committee, Mrs McMillan, Deputy Pat Deering TD, Joe Towey Wills Bros Contractors, Charles Wills of Wills Bros Contractors, Sean Laffey Senior Engineer Carlow County Council, Gavin O’Donovan Associate RPS and Kevin Power Director RPS.
The morning started with a visit to the new Merck Sharp & Dohme plant. I was accompanied by Damien Owens Registrar of Engineers Ireland and John Carley Director of Environment and Water Services in Carlow County Council. We were greeted by the General Manager Bryan Murray and brought on a tour of the plant by Kevin Dempsey Environment Health and Safety Manager. It is a very impressive state of the art manufacturing facility for vaccines against a range of human medical conditions.

Visiting Merck Sharp & Dohme Left to Right Sean Laffey Senior Engineer Carlow County Council, PJ Rudden President of Engineers Ireland, John Carley Director of Services, Carlow County Council, Damien Owens Registrar Engineers Ireland and Kevin Dempsey Manager Merck Sharp & Dohme
We then proceeded to Carlow IT to be greeted by the Head of Engineering David Denieffe who conducted a tour of the school assisted by Edwin Landzaad Head of Built Environment Department and Eugene Carbery Head of Electronic, Mechanical and Aerospace Department which included a visit to the Aeronautical Research Centre. The Student Centre also houses an extremely impressive range of sporting and leisure facilities for students. Carlow IT is hoping to join with Waterford IT to form a South East Technological University. It was the first IT in Ireland to get accreditation of its Engineering course from Engineers Ireland.

In the Aerospace Department of Carlow IT David Denieffe Head of Engineering Carlow IT,
Roddy McNamee Lecturer in Aviation, John Carley Director of Carlow County Council,
PJ Rudden President of Engineers Ireland and Damien Owens Registrar Engineers Ireland.
Then we proceeded to the Town Centre to unveil the relocated Houghton monument in the presence of the Town Council Chairman Councillor Tom O’Neill MCC. Reverend Samuel Houghton (1821-1897) was born in Burrin Street Carlow and distinguished himself firstly as a student of mathematics and science. He was a Fellow of Trinity College at the age of 23 and Professor of Geology at the age of 30. He then worked in the biomedical field and became “the father of modern biomechanics” according to the current Provost of Trinity Professor Patrick Prendergast.

After unveiling the Houghton Monument left to right
PJ Rudden, John Carley, Council Chairman Tom O’Neill and Dr Norman McMillan
Then onto the Town Hall for a Civic Welcome from the Carlow Local Authorities by Town Council Chairman Tom O’Neill MCC and County Manager Tom Barry. Local Carlow TD Pat Deering was also present together with Councillors Eileen Brophy and Jennifer Murnane O’Connor. Also attending were staff from Carlow Town Council, Carlow County Council, Wills Bros Contractors and RPS Consulting Engineers. I was presented with a beautiful ceramic depiction of the roman arch and gate entrance to Oak Park Agricultural Research Centre in Carlow.

In my response to the Council Chairman, I congratulated the Carlow Local Authorities for their forward planning vision which continues to facilitate new large scale high tech industrial development like Merck Sharp and Dohme together with new infrastructure like Carlow Main Drainage both of which are a huge investment to assist future economic growth and jobs for Carlow Town and County.

After lunch, we visited Carlow Main Drainage and Flood Relief Project which is nearing completion. It was designed by RPS to prevent a severe flood in 2008 from recurring in the town. The August 2008 flood caused the River Barrow to burst its banks and to flood parts of Carlow Town Centre to a depth of 2 metres. Some 100 people had to be evacuated from their homes.  This €20million Flood Relief project was built by Wills Bros Contractors, Foxford, Co. Mayo involving reconstruction of the river channel with new training walls and the creation of new parks and amenities over many of the storm interceptor sewers.

Viewing the new flood protection measures along the River Barrow as part of Carlow Main Drainage – PJ Rudden, Charles Wills, Kevin Power and John Carley

Finally John Carley and I were invited by Sean Laffey Senior Engineer to visit the very impressive VISUAL Arts Centre built by Carlow Town Council under Sean’s supervision. It is a hugely impressive building surfaced entirely in glass in the grounds of St. Patrick's College with modern theatre and display facilities. There I had the pleasure of meeting sculptor artist Eileen McDonagh whose stone works were on display. Eileen’s exhibition ‘Lithosphere – New and Retrospective Works’ is to be opened next Sunday 5th February at 3.30pm by Sinead Dowling Carlow Arts Officer. (Art lovers of Carlow and surrounding counties please take note!)

I had spent a very busy day from daybreak to dusk in Carlow Town – by far my busiest day of my year as President to date. It was a very enjoyable and memorable visit among the industrious resilient people of Carlow who continue to develop and grow their town in the face of recessionary pressures. I wish Carlow Local Authorities well in the years ahead. My sincere thanks to John Carley and the Carlow Local Authorities.

Sculptor Eileen McDonagh amongst her granite stone pieces
at VISUAL Arts Centre in Carlow

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