Obituary: Patrick Owen Jennings (1930-2016)
13 April 2016
Patrick Owen Jennings
It is with regret that we record the death on 19 January 2016 of Pat Jennings, former chief civil engineer with Córas Iompair Éireann (1980-’95) and a founding Fellow of the Irish Academy of Engineering.
A native of Aughrim, Co. Galway, Pat was born on 15 March 1930 and educated at Garbally Park, Ballinasloe and at University College Galway, from which he graduated with a BE degree in 1951. He spent a short time with the Office of Public Works in Dublin before moving to London to work for Sir William Halcrow, Consulting Engineers. In 1953, he joined the tunnelling and construction firm of A Waddington & Son and he was involved in major works on the remodelling of the Northern Line connections at King’s Cross underground station. He then moved to Newport, South Wales, in 1955 where he was a member of the team that installed the first Benoto piling system in the UK in the foundations at Rogerstone Power Station.
Returning to Dublin in late 1956, he first worked with Irish Construction Company Ltd on the building of the New Graving Dock at Dublin Port, which was completed in 1957. He subsequently joined AF Hastings & Co. as contractor’s agent on the drainage schemes at Sutton and Howth in north County Dublin, before moving to Belfast to take charge of the Mourne Stoneyford water supply scheme contract in 1959.
Pat Jennings joined CIÉ on 29 August 1960 as a senior assistant engineer in the New Works section of the chief civil engineer’s department. He was appointed new works engineer on 27 December 1966 in succession to DJP O’Connor and, in that role, was responsible for the execution of a number of important projects, including construction of the Silvermines branch (opened on 30 December 1966) and the Ballinacourty branch (opened on 3 April 1970).
On 3 May 1971, he was promoted to area civil engineer – Dublin, with responsibility for the maintenance of 1,300 track kilometres of the CIÉ system. Reorganisation of the civil engineering department on 1 December 1975 resulted in further promotion to assistant chief civil engineer (maintenance of way). During his tenure of that post he developed and implemented a fully mechanised system of track maintenance, backed up by mobile gangs and track patrols, to replace the previous manual system of track maintenance on CIÉ, thus reducing manning levels by up to 50%.
He specified and procured a track-recording car, which enabled CIÉ’s track maintenance activities to be planned on the basis of quantitative track data rather than qualitative assessment, and he strengthened the fleet of on-track maintenance machines of various types to match the maintenance task, providing and equipping a specialised workshop for machine maintenance. By adopting mobile portal gantries for laying pre-fabricated track panels, he introduced and perfected a mechanised system for track renewals, which gave optimum results with lowest manning levels. He was also instrumental in setting up an advanced automated factory at Portlaoise for the manufacture of pre-stressed concrete sleepers.
On 1 April 1980, he was appointed chief civil engineer in succession to TC Yates. He restructured the civil engineering function, carrying out a complete review of the department’s work and safety procedures, establishing new standards of maintenance for track carrying high-speed passenger traffic, and redefining the frequency and quality of inspection routines. During 1980-84, he organised and directed the project team that carried out the Civil Engineering and Permanent Way Works associated with the successful introduction of the Dublin Area Rapid Transit (DART) system. From 1987, until his retirement on 31 March 1995, he served as a member of the Executive Board of Iarnród Éireann.
Prior to his retirement, he had already become a respected consultant: in 1988, he was a member of an International Bank for Reconstruction & Development mission to Uganda Railways, and in 1994 he joined a World Bank mission studying the future role of Albanian Railways. After his retirement, consultancy assignments continued: he directed projects providing management support for transition of Lithuania Railways (1995-99); renewal of the Tapa-Petersi line, Estonia (1996-97); and the Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan components for restructuring of the Central Asian Railways (1997-98). He also provided specialist advice on World Bank projects for separation of the infrastructure business of Pakistan Railways (1998); and the preparation of National Railways of Zimbabwe for concessioning (1998-99).
At home, Iarnród Éireann called on his expertise for coastal defence works on the DSE section and on the project for quadruple-tracking the Cork mainline from Heuston to Kildare, the Inchicore to Hazlehatch section of which was brought into use in 2009.
Pat Jennings was elected a member of the Institution of Engineers of Ireland in 1961. He was transferred to the class of Fellow in 1969 and served as president for 1994-’95. In addition to his role in founding the Irish Academy of Engineering (IAE) in 1997, he was also a Fellow of the Permanent Way Institution (PWI), serving as its president (1989-91). He was a vice president of the Union of European Railway Engineering Associations and was a long-serving member of both the International Union of Railways (Union Internationale des Chemins des fer – UIC) and the Railway Engineers Association. He was a contributor to several significant published works, including Engineering Ireland (IAE) and Understanding Track Engineering (PWI).
In 1955, Pat was married to Molly O’Brien (who pre-deceased him in 2009) and they had four daughters Anita (O’Neill), Lelia, Paddi (Foudy) and Mary (Madigan) to whom, with other members of Pat’s family, we extend our deepest sympathies and condolences.http://www.engineersjournal.ie/2016/04/13/obituary-pat-jennings/http://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/patrick-owen-jennings.jpg.jpeghttp://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/patrick-owen-jennings.jpg-300x200.jpegCivilEngineers Ireland,Iarnrod Eireann,Irish Academy of Engineering