To mark the 70th anniversary of the Engineers Journal, we are reproducing the October 1946 edition in full. Here, Mary Anne Carrigan looks back at the first issue to see how the profession has changed and how some issues are timeless for engineers in Ireland

In October 1946, after a stuttering start, The Engineers Journal first became a regular publication. Two editions had been printed prior to this date – in December 1940 and again a year later – but ‘The Emergency’ and the consequent restrictions on paper put a temporary stop to the fledgling publication.

To mark the 70th anniversary proper of the Journal, and its beginnings as a regular publication for members of the then Cummann na n-Innealtóirí, we are reproducing the October 1946 edition here in full. Here you can find the PDF of the entire 70-year-old issue.

The organisation that we now know as Engineers Ireland has seen a lot of changes in that time. Membership of Cummann na n-Innealtóirí was just 679 in October 1946 and the annual subscription was one guinea (21 shillings – or one pound and five pence in decimalised currency). Today, Engineers Ireland has almost 23,000 members and has long since moved from the Westmoreland Street location of 1946.

In those post-war years, engineers in Ireland were fighting for better wages. The Association was attempting to mobilise its members and convince them of the “necessity of co-operation to improve [our] status” and demand a minimum wage.

“Cases have been examined in which the engineer’s salary was considerably less then those being paid to tradesmen under his direction,” states the editorial. “For the underpaid engineer to co-operate in a movement to improve his lot, it was necessary that some achievable minimum rate should be fixed for him to aim at.

“Rates, therefore, were arrived at which, though still lower than the importance of the engineers’ work would warrant, were such as would enable a single man to live; rates, moreover, which no employer could consider unjust to himself.”

Brain drain and post-war economy


ESB advertisement from October 1946 edition of the Engineers Journal

Just like today, the ‘brain drain’ was a concern. The editor writes: “Few Irishmen, be they engineers or otherwise, start their professional training with the intention of leaving their native country, yet to-day we see the best of our engineering graduates leaving the country to get whatever type of training and experience they can.”

And yet, he continues: “This is not altogether to be lamented as most of these young men, finding the ties of nationalism to be stronger than the lure of higher salaries, return to their native country bringing with them the experience and knowledge gained.”

The new, independent state was clearly in need of engineers to help secure its place on the world map. The editor writes that the main Irish industries at the time were “peat, sugar, glass, water power, cement agriculture, machinery, transport and fertilisers” and that experience is essential “if [our] young industries are to compete on an equal footing with foreign manufactures”. It goes without saying at this stage that there would appear to be the assumption that readers – and therefore engineers – were male.

Other topics covered in the publication include the growth of technical photography and photogrammetry (which it says was “extensively used to provide records of historic buildings liable to bomb damage in the war”) and carrier telephony. Social events were also featured, listing the names of important guests, such as “Mr. P.J. Little T.D., Minister for Posts and Telegraphs”.

Some 470 guests attended the annual dance in the Gresham Hotel on 2 January 1946 – a resurgence for the Association because, “owing to transport difficulties, [they] have been unable to attend in recent years”. Organised lectures included ‘Engineering Development During the War’ by Swiss engineer Werner Streuli, ‘The Nation’s Fuel’ and ‘Sydney Harbour Bridge’.

Site visits during the year were paid to Dublin Airport to “inspect the new concrete runways at present under construction”, Golden Falls Power Station at Ballymore Eustace (which had “an output of 4.5M/W”) and to Lullymore Bricquette Factory, where “shortage of petrol restricted the numbers able to avail of the courtesy extended by Bord na Móna”. In August, a party of 30 paid a visit to the Liffey Hydro-Electric Plant, “which included a number of ladies”.

Advertisements in the October 1946 issue provide a snapshot into the major engineering employers of the time, with companies like Ruston Oil Engines, Hugh N.R. Steele (automatic telephone and signalling equipment), Plastolim (hydrated lime suppliers), concrete supplier Moracrete and ironfounders Tonge & Taggart, whose manholes are still underfoot today. Chances are that there is a béal tuile cover near your own front door, adorned with the three castles of the Dublin crest and the historic company’s name.

Two advertisers still going strong, albeit having diversified over the years, are the Electricity Supply Board and Siemens Electric Lamps & Supplies Ltd (then based on 62 William Street in Dublin).

Engineers Journal – into the future


An obituary for James A. Butler, ESB assistant chief design engineer, who died suddenly in his home in Pembroke Park, Ballsbridge

In 1946, the editorial states that the Engineers Journal was “intended as a medium for explaining the aims and recording the progress of Cumann na n-Innealtóirí and as a vehicle for the views, aspirations and complaints of the engineers of Ireland”. This remains the same today in the publication’s fortnightly digital format.

The editor adds: “It is hoped that the magazine will prove of interest to all engineers in Ireland. One thing can make it so, and that is the co-operation of members of the profession in supplying articles.”

This is the only publication for engineers in Ireland and it covers all aspects of engineering – many of which, such as software, electronic, biomedical and chemical, would have been unimaginable to readers in 1946. One can only imagine what will feature in the October 2086 edition.

Let us know your thoughts as we reach our 70th anniversary, whether they are about the October 1946 edition or what you would like to see in future issues. The Engineers Journal is your opportunity to read about developments made by your peers – and also to let them know about your own projects and progress. It is your Journal. O'RiordanCivilBord na Móna,Engineers Ireland,ESB,heritage
In October 1946, after a stuttering start, The Engineers Journal first became a regular publication. Two editions had been printed prior to this date – in December 1940 and again a year later – but ‘The Emergency’ and the consequent restrictions on paper put a temporary stop to the...