Seán Canney, T.D., Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works (OPW) and Flood Relief visited Rathfarnham Castle to mark an exhibition celebrating 185 years of the OPW.
Minister Canney said: “It is right that we acknowledge and record the significant and long lasting impact that the OPW has had on the Irish landscape. We can see this legacy every day in the quality of our infrastructure, the architecture of our built environment and the allure of our heritage attractions. The OPW has a wonderful story to tell and this is brought to life in the OPW 185 exhibition here in Rathfarnham Castle. I would strongly encourage the public that have had their lives enhanced through the legacy of the OPW to visit this exhibition and see for themselves the chronicle of the work that has been undertaken by the OPW.”
The exhibition at Rathfarnham Castle demonstrates the breadth of public works and services carried out by generations of OPW staff over the past 185 years. The range and breadth of this work included the design, construction, maintenance and management of piers, harbours, roads, coast guard stations, schools, barracks, garda stations, housing, asylums, office accommodation, bridges, canals, courthouses, mines, quarries, prisons, railways, drainage, sewerage and water works, and post offices. The work of the organisation also includes the provision of furniture and artworks, conserving and interpreting heritage sites, maintaining war graves, providing flood risk management and provision of visitor facilities.
The Minister went on to say “I certainly have a hard act to follow when we consider all that has been achieved by the OPW over the past 185 years. Ministers come and go and I hope that my term as Minister will merit positive mention in the future anniversaries of this organisation. In visiting the 185 exhibition today and seeing the history of this vital organisation and the values that have underpinned it from its inception it is clear that the necessity for the OPW is as vital today to the wellbeing of this country”.
A Timeline has been designed that is 18.5 metres long, which illustrates the Government Acts that have directed the work of the OPW over the 185 years of the OPW; the main events in each decade; significant projects; the Chairmen of the Office Public Works and world events impacting on Ireland.
The items and artefacts exhibited were all proposed, submitted or loaned by OPW staff, both current and retired, following a process of staff engagement in June/July 2016. These items/artefacts have been categorised loosely in relation to the tasks involved, such as Drawing, Measuring, Conserving and so forth. Illustrated short stories/reminiscences of OPW staff are also included.
The Minister concluded “The former and current staff of the OPW deserve great praise for their legacy of the last 185 years. I am proud to follow in the footsteps of my father, Christy Canney who served as District Inspector in the OPW for twenty years from the 1960s to the 1980s in the Galway, Limerick and Castlebar areas and who also contributed to the footprint and legacy of the OPW.”