The BAM Civil built Cill Rónáin Harbour, on Inis Mór island, Co. Galway, has been voted Engineering Project of the Year by the Irish public in an online vote as part of the third Engineers Ireland Excellence Awards in association with ESB, it has been announced.

Speaking at the awards in the Four Seasons Hotel, Dublin, John Power, Engineers Ireland Director General, congratulated Punch Consulting Engineers and BAM Civil who delivered the project and said 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 re-developed Cill Rónáin Harbour is a true example of engineering ingenuity dramatically improving the quality of local, every-day lives. 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 short-listed entries highlight the contribution the engineering sector makes to Ireland,” added Mr Power.

Joe Murphy from Punch Consulting Engineers, the firm behind the project, said the completed €39 million project 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. 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,” Murphy said.

“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.”

Cill Rónáin Harbour came from a final shortlist of projects that also included Clonmel Flood Relief Scheme, Etihad Skyline Croke Park Stadium, 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 the result of an online public vote to select what they considered to be the project that has most benefited Irish society.

In addition to the Engineering Project of the Year competition, the third Engineers Ireland Excellence Awards also included:

· Award for Eoin Bambury from Crospon as Chartered Engineer of the Year
· Best Paper/Presentation of the Year – Cyril McCarthy, Chartered Engineer, OPW and Barry O’Connor, Chartered Engineer, Mott McDonald for the Clonmel Flood Relief Scheme
· Volunteer/Volunteer group of the Year – Young Engineers Society
· Technology of the Year – OpenHdyro’s Open-Centre Tidal Turbine
· The Engineering Education Award ‘Best in Class 2012’ – Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, and National College of Art and Design for Trinity College Dublin all Ireland MSc in Bioengineering Education
· ESB Award – Outstanding Contribution to Engineering – John Killeen (Galway)
· Environmental Infrastructure Award – Cavan County Council, Erne Valley Group Water Scheme and Tobin Consulting Engineers for the Upgrade of the Erne Valley Group Water Scheme;