Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

Engineer. Thaddaeus Courtney, elder son of Timothy Courtney of the Royal Irish Constabulary, and his wife Ellen  (née Shea) - who both came from Co. Kerry - was born in Co. Kerry on 13 December 1894. He attended the Presentation Brothers' College in Cork and studied engineering at University College, Cork, gaining the BE degree in 1916 and the ME degree in 1932. His first post was with the Cork, Bandon & South Coast Railway; between 1917 and 1922 he divided his time between the construction of facilities at the Harland & Wolff shipyards in Belfast and the construction and completion of the Ford assembly plant in Cork. He joined the Irish Army at its formation in 1922 and helped to organize the Corps of Engineers, from which he retired with the rank of major in 1925. After a spell as engineering inspector (roads) in the Department of Local Government, he was appointed county surveyor to the North Riding of Co. Tipperary in 1930 at a salary of £700 per annum with travelling expenses of 6d. per mile.(2) He returned to the Department of Local Government in 1934 to take the place of JAMES QUIGLEY  JAMES QUIGLEY as chief engineering inspector.(3) He served on several government enquires and commissions and, during the Second World War, was chairman of the Turf Executive. Having acted for a time as a part-time railway inspecting officer, he was appointed chairman of Coras Iampair Eireann in 1949 and held this position until his retirement in 1958. He died at Waterville, Co. Kerry, on 5 August 1961, leaving a widow, Laetitia (née Fitzsimons), whom he had married in 1925 and by whom he had two children.

As chief engineering adviser to the Department of Local Government, Courtney was responsible for the reorganization of the engineering services of County Councils to meet the expansion in road improvement, public works and housing. He is said to have had an important influence on the transformation of the road system to cope with motor transport and, during his period at CIE, on the large-scale substitution of diesel for steam traction in Ireland.

Courtney's pupils and assistants included WILLIAM J. CHADWICK.  WILLIAM J. CHADWICK.

Engineers' Association: president, 1953.(4)
ICEI:(5) associate member, 1919; member, 1928; council member,1935-1942, 1944-1961; wins Mullins Silver Medal, 1938, for his paper on 'Road Reconstruction', read on 7 Feb 1938;(6) vice-president, 1942-3; president, 1943-44.

Addresses:(7) 5 Sullivan's Quay, Cork, 1901;  4 Queen's Place, Cork, 1911;  92 University Street, Belfast, 1920; 4 Queen's Place, Cork, 1921-2; Engineer Corps Headquarters, Dublin, 1924; Tempe Terrace, Dalkey, Co. Dublin, 1927; 2 6 Ulverton Rd, Dalkey, 1929; Courthouse, Nenagh, Co. Tipperary, 1933; 66 Brighton Square, Rathgar, Dublin, 1942.



Information in this entry not otherwise referenced is from the 1901 and 1911 censuses of Ireland, www.census.nationalarchives.ie (last visited Jun 2010), from Brendan O'Donoghue, The Irish County Surveyors 1834-1944 (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2007), from the obituary in TICEI 88 (1961-2), 298, and from the entry by Pauric J. Dempsey and Shaun Boylan in DIB, which gives the fullest account of Courtney's life.   A photograph of Courtney forms the frontispiece to TICEI 70 (1943-44); the same photograph is reproduced in IB 87, 20 Nov 1945, 446. Another obituary, with a different photograph, is in Engineers Journal 14 (1961), 379. a profile of him, also illustrated with a photograph, is in Irish Engineering Journal I (No. 1, Jan 1950), 11.

(1) IB 76, 11 Aug 1934, ?; this is more accurate than the note in the issue of 4 Nov 1934, ?.
(2) Nenagh Guardian, 13 Sep 1930.
(3) See note 1, above.
(4) Engineers Journal 14 (1961), 379.
(5) TICEI lists of officers and members.
(6) TICEI 64, (1937-8), 99-123; 65 (1938-9), 307.
(7) From  1901 and 1911 censuses, TICEI membership lists and Thom's Directory 1933.

Author Title Date Details
Courtney, Thaddeus C. 'Road Reconstruction' 1938 TICEI 64 (1937-8), 99-123.
Courtney, Thaddeus C. [Presidential Address to ICEI] 1943 TICEI 70 (1943-44), 1-13.