Frank McGrath was born in 1931 in Galway, and he outlines his family background. His father served with the RIC and was stationed in Craughwell during the War of Independence. Frank graduated with a B.E. degree in civil engineering from UCG in 1953, and he recalls these college years in detail. Following his graduation, he worked for Hubert O’Connor, a lecturer in the college, who had set up an office as a part time Consulting Engineer in his Galway home. At that time many major construction projects were underway in the area, including the Galway Water Works, the Patrician Brothers monastery on Nuns Island, and Mountbellew Agricultural College. He continued to work on these projects after the death of Hubert O’Connor in 1956, under whose supervision he had been working. Mrs. O’Connor then asked that he stay on and run the practice. At that stage retired Professor Rishworth had a joint project in Galway with Hubert O’Connor. He helped to set up a working arrangement and got Padraic O’Loughlin, a lecturer in UCG, to supervise the work Frank produced.
They practiced under the title of HGLO ‘Connor & Co. until 1958, when Frank McGrath was appointed by the Co. Councils and other clients as Consulting Engineer on all the office projects. At this stage, he also inherited work which had been undertaken by Hubert O’Connor as Building Officer at UCG, and he anecdotally describes some of the projects he worked on at that time.
Eileen O’Connor, daughter of Hubert O’Connor, joined the practice as his assistant in 1956, following her graduation in 1961 as a Chartered Architect, and the company was then in a position to trade as HGLO’Connor Consulting Engineers and Architects. As the years progressed the company continued to expand and attract new clients, and was in a position to move to new offices and employ graduates and draftsmen in the 1970s. By 1975 the company employed 35 people.