Monday 23 April 2018

James Fenwick

The former Dublin City Engineer was a wonderful ambassador for his profession

JAMES (Jim) Fenwick, former Dublin City Engineer, was born in Cork in 1932, and attended the well known rugby academy of Christian Brothers College, Cork. A talented individual with a shock of blond hair, Jim Fenwick floated effortlessly through school (as, subsequently, he did through life), gaining a UCC Exhibition in 1951. Along the way, he acquired a deep love for, and competence in, rugby, rising to representative honours on the Munster schoolboys team. The love of rugby continued through college, collecting Munster Senior and Junior Cup medals along the way.

As Percy French called it, the "spectre of graduation" (in Civil Engineering) came in 1954 and, following a short spell as student engineer in Dublin Corporation, Jim returned to college to complete a second BE, this time as one of the first crop of engineers to graduate from the newly established faculty of Electrical Engineering.

A nomadic engineering career ensued, starting with the giant hosiery manufacturer Sunbeam Wolsey. He then moved to consulting engineer EG Pettit, a post which included a spell in Zambia (where he contracted malaria).

A short time with the National Building Agency followed, and then he transferred to the Inland Fisheries Trust. After this, his home front beckoned, and he joined Dun Laoghaire Council.

In 1991 he was elevated to the post of Chief Engineer City and Country (Dublin) for Engineering Services. Two years later, he became Dublin City Engineer where he remained until his retirement in 1997. During his tenure, a particular problem was the ongoing issue of balancing water supply with demand in a burgeoning economy.

Along the way, he achieved a number of distinctions: ME, Eur Eng, F.IEI, CEng and Membership of the Institution of Water Engineers and Management. When questioned about his ME thesis, he always replied with a smile that it was for "sludge".

Jim was a member of four rugby clubs, and he travelled frequently in support of his beloved Munster. He was also a 'Messer About in Boats', starting with a dinghy and progressing to a larger craft on which he travelled our inland waterways with his family.

He was also a cricketer, playing well into his sixties. In more recent years, he took up golf, exhibiting the cricketer's dashing drive off the tee.

Jim had a wide range of interests. He was a member of the Royal Dublin Society, and had a keen interest in local history. He was a top class woodworker, adorning his pieces with his trademark small sea shell. This extended to the crafting of sundials, for which he recommended the Latin phrase that translated to: "I don't count the hours unless they are serene ones"; he also carved a rugby ball, which is annually competed for by two of his former clubs: Highfield and Bective Rangers.

Jim Fenwick had an encyclopaedic knowledge of water engineering and was an outstanding ambassador for his profession, possessing the attributes of goodness, grace, courtesy, self deprecation and consideration for others, all allied to a great sense of humour (or more accurately, a sense of the ridiculous).

Deepest sympathy is conveyed to his wife Elsie, their children Margaret, Joe and Jean, his sister Mary and his extended family.


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