Rónan Daly - Asset Operations Lead for Co Roscommon discusses engineering and pastimes

Rónan Daly is Irish Water’s Asset Operations Lead for County Roscommon. He is a native of Kerry but moved to Galway for college when he was 19. Talking about his roots, he says “I grew up in the small town of Listowel in Co Kerry and headed off to UCG (now NUIG) in 1990. It was exciting to meet so many people from all over Ireland and from other countries. I learnt that so many experiences are common no matter where you come from.”   

Educational background

Rónan studied Civil Engineering to degree level followed by a postgraduate degree in Engineering Hydrology. He has been working in water services for most of his career gaining experience with a range of different organisations including local authorities, consultancy, self-employment, and now with Irish Water. “I think it’s important to get a rounded experience in the first 10-15 years of your career,” he says, adding ”I sought out career opportunities across the industry in various roles and in different locations working alongside both national and international companies and suppliers.  I saw first-hand the different approaches German, Dutch and UK professionals have to business. It is important to realise that engineering work is not all about technical solutions, facts and figures; successful outcomes also rely very much on personalities, personal interaction and effective communication.”

Rónan met his wife while a student in UCG and they now have three teenage children: one in college studying primary school teaching, another doing the leaving cert this June and the youngest is in Transition Year. “None of them has an interest in pursuing engineering as a career at the moment and that’s fine. It’s very difficult to decide what career you would like to pursue at 17/18 years old, but there is great support available through Career Guidance in schools, open days at colleges, advice from parents/older siblings and career websites. I would hate to think that anyone would feel pressurised or obliged to follow a particular career path.”  

What does Rónan love most about working with Irish Water?

”I love the variety of issues and different people that I encounter every day. I feel that I am part of a wide team working together to provide a quality service to the Roscommon public, with the goal of creating sustainable water services for future generations. In my current role, I deal with a range of issues every day including site safety, technical engineering problems, financial management of our operational budget in Roscommon, contract management of services being delivered, and environmental compliance. It’s a great opportunity to develop my thoughts and understanding of how systems work and how they can be improved. One of my favourite aspects of work is my regular visits to Roscommon County Council to meet and work with the people in Roscommon. Everyone I interact with is a true professional, with solid expertise and a tremendous dedication to serving the public. Combined with a never-failing welcome and spirit of cooperation, it really is a wonderful place to work.”  

Rónan believes that we should always be learning throughout life. “I had a maths teacher in school who taught me an important skill: what is it exactly that is preventing you from completing a problem – what elements of information do you need and how do you apply them in order to solve the overall issue? I didn’t realise it at the time, but that is not just a maths’ skill, but a life skill. Realising what you don’t know is an important step in life-learning.”   

What other passions does Rónan have?

Indeed Rónan’s passions aren’t all about engineering. “As a teenager, I was always verging on musical obsession, playing guitar literally until my fingers bled! I took piano exams in school and still play every day, but in a much more relaxed and pleasurable way without the stress of being examined. I even started giving piano lessons a few years ago and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I find music opens up another part of your brain, tying the left and right parts together and is a bit of escapism, if I’m being honest! I also rediscovered my passion for art, which was something that I had lost since school and took some classes a few years ago to brush up (and also down, in the advanced class). These may seem like more creative subjects, but engineers also need to be creative problem-solvers in order to deliver solutions and advance the profession and knowledge base.”  

Talking about the challenges he faces in Irish Water, Rónan says ”Our most difficult challenge is continuing to provide consistently excellent customer service in the face of reducing finances. Our water and wastewater systems are relatively old and in need of further significant investment to provide a safe and reliable service for the future. Despite this, I expect that the people in Roscommon are delighted to finally have no Boil Water Notices in the county and to know that all our wastewater treatment plants are compliant with European standards. This could only be achieved through the close partnership between Irish water and Roscommon County Council.”

More information

For more on news and events during Engineers Week visit our Engineers Week 2020 page.

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