PJ Hegarty & Sons – Partnership Building

One of Ireland’s leading construction and civil engineering companies, PJ Hegarty & Sons is continuing to win business through a mixture of reliability, flexibility and a ‘partnership’ approach. Irish Building Magazine reports on recent business activity at a firm renowned for an adherence to the highest quality standards.

Founded in Cork in 1925, for the last 88 years PJ Hegarty & Sons has remained a family-owned firm with John Hegarty the current Managing Director. In the intervening years, the company has grown to be one of Ireland’s largest building contractors and it is listed in The Irish Times 1,000. The company is now headquartered in Dublin with offices in Cork  Limerick and London with a staff of more than 220 people employed.

Notably, PJ Hegarty & Sons has twice built the country’s tallest building: Cork County Hall in 1968 and the Elysian in Cork in 2008. Other landmark projects in recent years include: the Criminal Courts of Justice Complex in Dublin, Terminal 2 and Pier E at Dublin Airport, the Intel Microchip Facility at Lexlip in County Kildare and the N6 Galway and the M50 Dublin PPP motorway projects.

The company prides itself on taking on large complex projects, whether they be in commercial, retail, tourism, pharmaceutical, high-tech or institutional building, in refurbishment or in civil engineering works. Numerous projects involving PJ Hegarty & Sons have won industry awards and the company is an acknowledged innovator being the first  construction company in Ireland to achieve IS0 9002 certification for its quality assurance procedures and being the first construction company to be accredited by Engineers Ireland for its continuous professional development programmes. PJ Hegarty & Sons also has a training partnership with the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB). The firm enjoys an excellent safety record and was first awarded Safe-T-Cert accreditation in 2004 and it has renewed this annually to Grade A standard.

Good spirits

The company has developed, over many years a partnership approach when working with clients and professional teams. One of the best examples of this is its 30-year-old relationship with Irish Distillers Ltd (IDL) and their distillery in Midleton, Co Cork.

PJ Hegarty & Sons has been working continuously with IDL since 1975, maintaining and dealing with ongoing plant expansion. In 1988, IDL became part of the Pernod Ricard Group who quickly identified the potential of the Jameson brand. Today Jameson is sold worldwide with outstanding growth sales year on year.

To cope with this growing demand, in January 2012 IDL undertook a €100m expansion of production capacity at the Midleton distillery. PJ Hegarty & Sons was awarded the Building and Civil contract for this expansion and was central to completing the project on schedule in September of this year.


The project included the construction of a new  brew house,  still houses, tank farms, a water treatment plant, a firewater retention facility, a wastewater treatment plant, underground services and paving. Works were complicated by the fact that the IDL plant remained live during the construction works phase and this involved major co-ordination with the Client and Design Teams. In parallel to the plant expansion new warehouse facilities were also completed on the site to accommodate the growing demand for storage space. Contracts Manager Philip Cronin who has been working closely with IDL for 15 years explained the magnitude and complexity of works carried out in the past 18 months and emphasised that construction of this scale could not have been achieved without all parties working in a Team approach.

PJ Hegarty & Sons also completed, in the same period, the enabling works project for the IDL new Maturation Facility in Dungourney.  Situated on a 70 acre site the works involved:  earthworks, underground services, retention ponds, soil stabilisation and a new kilometre of roadway. Hegarty have now commenced works on new Warehouse construction on this site.

Other works saw the construction of a new Archive Facility and Irish Whiskey Academy at the IDL Heritage Centre which adjoins the Distillery in Midleton. The Academy which is an educational facility for bartenders, journalists, VIPs and IDL employees, located in what was the distillery’s 200-year-old infirmary, and the Archive building, telling the story of Ireland’s whiskey brands, located in what was the old distillers’ cottages provided unique challenges to PJ Hegarty & Sons.  The Irish Whiskey Academy has been fitted out with a state-of-the-art audio-visual system that includes high-definition video projection, as well as Sony Bravia Smart TVs, control using Samsung Galaxy tablets that give presenters and instructors finger-tip control of HD videos stored on a solid-state media player.

The contrast between the academy’s high-spec modern interior and the old infirmary’s exterior is a marked one. “This work required a great deal of attention to conservation and preservation of the original fabric and fixtures in place,” said Cronin.  PJ Hegarty & Sons is listed on the Register of Heritage Contractors as a main contractor,  that has demonstrated their experience in managing heritage projects.  In addition to its management abilities, PJ Hegarty & Sons reputation is built on having a solid base of traditional craft skills.

Commenting on the relationship with IDL, Cronin said: “We have a partnership agreement in place that serves both companies very well. It is built on trust and a commitment to deliver projects safely, on schedule and to the highest quality. Central to the partnership is a willingness and loyalty from both companies to work closely together in meeting the demands of the IDL success story”.   He also pointed out the importance of the relationship PJ Hegarty & Sons has with IDL when negotiating new works with other multinational companies.

Separate to IDL and the Midleton Distillery, two years ago the Irish Whiskey Collection store, located in Dublin Airport’s The Loop Retail area won the Speciality Concept of the Year Award, ahead of worldwide competition at the Frontier Awards in Cannes. This fit-out project, completed by PJ Hegarty & Sons in September 2010, has been described as the world’s best travel retail shop for Irish whiskeys. While building contracting is PJ Hegarty & Sons’s primary activity it has a great deal of expertise in other areas, including fit-outs, and the company has done fit out projects for the office, retail, leisure, pharma and high-tech industries using its own list of specialist sub-contractors and suppliers to meet client needs.

University of Limerick

Of course, when you have a track record as distinguished as PJ Hegarty & Sons, it is no surprise that your projects are again in the running for major prizes this year.


Among the many distinguished projects that the company has worked on recently is the University of Limerick’s new School of Medicine building and three accompanying student accommodation blocks. Designed by Grafton Architects, these buildings have been shortlisted for the RIBA Stirling Prize awarded annually to what is considered to be the best new building in the British Isles. In their description, RIBA have described the development as: “An exceptional example of how to create a vibrant new public space through the careful design and placement of buildings. High-quality, beautiful and dramatic buildings that punch far above their budget!”

In  completing  the UL Medical School  project, PJ Hegarty & Sons has shown no sign of being hampered  by the fact that the contract was originally awarded to another construction team that has, due to the recent economic difficulties, gone out of business. “The biggest headache was the fact that the project had been stopped in its tracks and we had to pick up the pieces,” said Hegarty’s contracts manager John Walsh. “But with a great deal of good will from the sub-contractors, the designer and the client, we were able to pick up the pieces and deliver the project to a very high standard. Certainly, the college is very pleased with the finished article and it is winning high praise from users and visitors.”

The Medical School building is a four-storey building with a total floor area of 4,295m2. Foundations to the building are comprised of piles with associated ground beams and pads upon which a structural insitu concrete frame was formed. An 80mm blue-grey limestone cladding forms the outer leaf of the external cavity wall with a 215mm blockwall inner leaf and face finished to the internal. Glazing to the ground floor was of a structural timber nature with aluminium used on the remainder of the building. The roof was constructed of insitu concrete with insulation and asphalt with aluminium roof lights. Within the structure is a lecture theatre, research laboratory, computer rooms, meeting areas and, on the third floor, office space and research labs. In the Medical School, with the exception of the Lecture Theatre and the research laboratory areas, all spaces are naturally lit and ventilated. On the ground floor there is public foyer, a café, a lecture theatre for 150 people, two seminar rooms, a plant room and toilet..

The interior wall finishes generally consisted of fair face blockwalls for ease of maintenance with some featured timber acoustic paneling to the lecture theatre and lobby and specialist ‘clean wall system’ to laboratory area. Flooring is made up of tiling in the ground floor lobby and toilet areas, with carpets in classrooms and open areas and vinyl in laboratory areas. All levels are linked via an iroko-timber stairs.

There are double-height limestone colonnades on the west and south facing elevations and these provide a sheltered area prior to entering the building. Internally a central four-storey void draws light from roof level and provides cross ventilation for the building.

The student accommodation blocks consist of three separate buildings ranging from five- to six-floors with a total combined floor area of 3,600m2. These contained 22 four-bedroom units and six two-bedroom units. Foundations, again, are piled with ground beams and pads. The structural frame comprises in situ concrete columns and beams with precast slabs and in situ concrete screed. The external cavity walls are made up of a brick exterior leaf, with a 215mm internal block leaf. Timber glazing with limestone sills is used throughout the three buildings. Access to each building was via feature timber gates. The roofs are constructed of precast slab units with in situ concrete screed topped off with insulation and torch on felt. Wall finishes are generally a painted, skimmed plasterboard with tiling to toilet and kitchen areas. Flooring consists of carpet to bedrooms, tiling to stairs, lobbies and toilets, vinyl to kitchen areas.

Each of the accommodation blocks is entered through a protected ‘archway-type’ space that is lit from above and from the sides and is part double-height.

The external piazza and the various walkways surrounding the buildings contain more than 7,000m2 of ‘hardscaping’ paving.

The residences are designed to form an integral part of a suite of buildings which generate a new public space, or piazza, on the universities North Campus, which is located across the river on the Clare side of the Shannon. All the buildings are designed to accommodate a number of environmental design strategies such as solar panels to provide hot water.

Good Flavour

Another project where PJ Hegarty & Sons demonstrated great flexibility, coming in to take charge after the original main contractor had run into difficulty and gone out of business, was at the new PepsiCo ingredients plant at Little Island in Cork. The high-tech facility takes key components of finished seasoning powders and blends them together to create ‘flavour hearts’ chiefly for use in flavouring Walkers Crisps. Named Project Evolve 2.0 by PepsiCo, the new two-storey facility is about 3,600m2 in area and includes: an ambient warehouse, a relative humidity controlled warehouse, a clean manufacturing production suite, utility support areas and admin, welfare and laboratory areas.  It is hoped that up to 50 people will be employed at the site in coming years.

As Irish Building went to press, PJ Hegarty & Sons had handed the building over to PepsiCo Worldwide Flavours, but its staff were still on site while the four week trial running and validation trials were taking  place. The building had passed an inspection by the insurance company Factory Mutual and should also meet the requirements of the American LEED programme or leadership in energy and environmental design.

Contract manager Barry Casey admitted that there was ‘some difficulties’ taking over a project that had been half way completed by the original main contractor, but he said: “We hit the ground running and everything was completed on time, within 21 weeks, and on budget – which was €9m not including the process equipment that had to come in from Germany.  The client appears to be very happy with what we have achieved and we hope to work with PepsiCo Worldwide Flavours again.”


Another significant Cork-based project was the construction of a new € 24.8m factory for Boston Scientific on the Model Farm Road – although the factory was built for Boston Scientific it will be leased to Stryker, another medical devices firm, who have bought Boston Scientific’s neurovascular division which made implants to treat strokes and aneurysms. A number of staff from Boston Scientific’s original plant on the Model Farm Road are transferring to the new Stryker building.


The new two-storey building is next door to Boston Scientific’s existing Cork operation. The development comprises a 3,600m2 clean room on the ground floor where three types of neurovascular coil will be manufactured, a 2,300m2 warehouse with our dock levellers, a 2,200m2 admin/office  area and a 1,200m2 plant room, as well as 540 car parking spaces, electrical switch rooms, a sprinkler tank, a pump house and groundworks. This is one of many projects that PJ Hegarty & Sons has completed for Boston Scientific, which it first secured as a client in 1998.

Project director Tim Healy said that a major difficulty to be overcome was that one of the main subcontractors, Rotary, went into liquidation about of a third of a way through the construction process. He said: “The building works progressed at a lesser pace,  while the client went to the market to secure an alternative contractor to replace Rotary.  O’Kane Engineering were the successful bidder, they had actually worked on the original Boston Scientific building next door 14 years previous. In order to achieve the clients handover dates the on-site hours were extended to ensure the clean room phase of the project in  October was achieved. The Client’s requested a phased handover, so that Boston Scientific could commence early validation works which was hugely important  and critical to the success of their production schedules.

In all there were four phases to the project.  Phase one consisted of enabling works involving the construction of a new car park for Boston Scientific staff so that the new facility could be built on the location of the existing car park.  Phase 2 involved construction of the clean room section of the building including a temporary connecting corridor, built to clean room standard, between the new and existing clean rooms.  Phases 3 and 4 were the completion and handover of firstly the warehouse section and then the office section of the building. Co-ordination of these works with client operations was again critical to ensure validation procedures within the handed over clean room area was not affected in any way.

The new manufacturing facility building was constructed using reinforced concrete foundations and a structural steel frame with both precast and insitu composite metal deck concrete suspended floor slabs. The quality of concrete floor finish was very important to the client for both the warehouses and cleanroom facilities. Stringent quality control procedures, including PJ Hegarty & Sons’s bespoke Inspection & Testing Sign-off sheets, were implemented on this project, as with all of the company’s projects. The building façade consisted of insulated architectural cladding panels, curtain wall glazing and architectural brickwork. The roofing consisted of metal roof deck and trocal roofing membrane. Healy said: “ The building  it is very well-finished with very good use of natural light and complemented by very good   architectural details .”

The contract also included the full installation of extensive mechanical & electrical services (including cooling systems) and the complete architectural fit out of the warehouses, clean room and offices, which PJ Hegarty & Sons co-ordinated in its role as main contractor and project supervisor of the construction stage (PSCS).

Another life sciences project that PJ Hegarty & Sons worked on recently, the 200,000ft2 Merck Sharpe & Dohme Vaccine and Biologics Sterile Facility in County Carlow won the Operational Excellence category for the International Society of Pharmaceutical Engineering’s Facility of the Year Awards 2013. The €14.5m MSD facility is the first stand-alone human vaccine project in Ireland and it includes a formulation and sterile filling operation and an R&D team to support recently launched vaccines, as well as a range of new products to be launched in the future.

Leisure and Recreation

On the other side of the country, in Dun Laoghaire – Rathdown, PJ Hegarty & Sons has recently completed its latest leisure project, the refurbishment and extension of Loughlinstown Leisure Centre so that it now includes a 25m swimming pool, a ‘changing village’ and a public viewing area, as well as three new all-weather football pitches, replacing three football pitches prone to water logging that had been there, plus additional car parks to cater for the increased number of visitors to the centre.


The €6.8m leisure centre was designed by architects Simon J Kelly + Partners, who previously won the contract to design the new Dún Laoghaire Library & Cultural Centre. The Loughlinstown has been given a new entrance foyer, replacing the pavilion that had stood there. According to Colm Cantillion of SJK:  The foyer is conceived as a transparent, light-filled, welcoming space placed between the solid volumes of the brick-clad pool and the newly rendered existing building.”

PJ Hegarty & Son’s project director Liam Bennett said: “The client is very happy with the high-quality finish that has been achieved and it is great to see a local authority able and willing to invest in recreational facilities like these.

“It was a straightforward project but required careful management in relation to logistics and quality of finished project. It was phased to allow completion of the artificial pitches first followed by the centre itself.

“We worked very well with the design team and there was a good sense of cooperation among everyone involved. Safety standards by all were excellent, thanks mainly  to our Project  Manager, Sean O’Mahony and Project Engineer, John Treacy.”

Certainly, Dun Laoghaire – Rathdown’s CEO of Leisure Services is delighted with the centre: ““The local community, existing leisure centre users, and schools in the area will all enjoy swim sessions, lessons, fitness, and fun in the new pool, adding greatly to the leisure and fitness options provided by the Loughlinstown Centre. This is an invaluable resource, which can improve the health and well-being of all those who use the pool, and perhaps even help develop some of Ireland’s future national swimming team.”

Dun Laoghaire – Rathdown county Council’s project manager on the scheme, Rory O’Sullivan said: “I found PJ Hegarty & Sons to be a highly progressive, quality-driven and competent contractor. They completed the works within the contract period and to our great satisfaction within budget. During the construction period, the existing Leisure Centre was open for business and this involved a high level of coordination and cooperation between PJH and DLR Leisure Services. PJ Hegarty & Sons executed their works safely and professionally facilitating the Leisure Centre’s customers at all times.”

O’Sullivan’s comments are another glowing testimonial to the quality and craftsmanship of PJ Hegarty & Sons and the company’s willingness to work in partnership for the betterment of construction and engineering projects.

PJ Hegarty & Sons –  Corporate Vision

PJ Hegarty & Son’s vision is to be recognised as a leader in its industry that:

• Embraces teamwork and builds partnerships with Clients and Consultants.

• Approaches every project, regardless of size, with honesty, integrity and full commitment.

• Values relationships and seeks to build trust with all stakeholders.

• Appreciative and considerate of our people by ensuring the highest standards of Health & Safety.

• Environmentally aware and strives for continuous improvement in sustainable building.

© Irish Building Magazine