Patrick Cassidy, better known as Páid, grew up in Co. Monaghan. He describes his background and education, and his graduation in civil engineering at UCD in 1962. After a brief spell working on one of the last rural electrification schemes for the ESB, he joined T.J.O’Connor& Associates consulting engineers as a junior engineer and he remained with the company throughout his career.
Throughout his career, he specialised mainly in water services engineering and describes how much has changed in the industry since he started work. At that time, there were no computers and all design calculations were done on slide rules. Drawings were done on tracing paper and the copying process involved a strong smell of ammonia.
He describes how water and wastewater treatment processes were simpler and more basic at that time. Slow-sand filters were still being used in smaller water treatment plants. Imhoff tanks and percolating filters were still used in wastewater treatment. He also recalls the roadside fountains of rural Ireland, the locations of which were still specified in pipeline contracts.
He described his role as project director responsible for new water treatment plants for group water schemes in various counties throughout the country and explains that he was first appointed to a pilot project which involved bundling all the group water schemes in County Monaghan under one contract to procure cost effective water treatment. This provided economy of scale which, prior to this, was not available to the individual schemes which are locally owned and run by volunteer committees and enabled them for the first time provide consumers with water which complies with all statutory drinking water standards.
He mentions the most interesting challenges he faced in his career in designing and supervising the construction of the new water and wastewater schemes throughout the country. He refers to the years of great changes in urban and rural Ireland which led to the transformation of the way we live today.