Canal engineer. Thomas Omer is believed to have come originally from Holland and to have worked on river navigation in England before being invited to Ireland in 1755 by the Commissioners of Inland Navigation to act as their engineer. A satirical account of various engineers in Ireland in the Freeman's Journal for 31 May to 2 June 1770 includes an attack on 'T[homa]s O[me]r, Esq. A Gentleman recommended as deserving the Countenance and Encouragement of every Member of the [Navigation] B[oar]d (which he has great Reason to boast of enjoying for many Years) having been employed as Carpenter, in framing two Flood-gates, and driving sume dovetail Piles, at the Breast of a Lock on the River Kennet in Berkshire; and tho' he had never seen a navigable Canal, and was unacquainted with the four common Rules of Arithmetick; yet from his great Practice above mentioned, he was recommended by Lord [Boy?]ne, and received by the B[oar]d, as perfectly acquainted with every Branch of the Profession of an Engineer.'
Soon after his arrival in Ireland, Omer published Mr Omer's letter to the public comptroller of the inland navigation (Dublin 1755). During the second half of the 1750s and the 1760s he was involved in the planning and construction of the Grand Canal, the Newry ship canal, and of the Lagan, Boyne, Shannon, Nore and Barrow navigations. According to Delany, Omer's work often 'displayed a lack of understanding of the problems of river navigations'. He was still described as 'principal engineer of the navigation board' in April 1766, when he was directed by the pipe water committee of the common council of Dublin to prepare plans and estimates for bridges over the Grand Canal in Dublin. Delany states that he had 'disappeared from the scene' by 1768, though the lampoon in the Freeman's Journal suggests that he was still in Ireland in 1770. A son, Daniel Omer, assisted his father in making surveys for the Grand Canal. ROWLAND OMER was probably another son.
See WORKS and BIBLIOGRAPHY.
All information in this entry not otherwise accounted for is from Ruth Delany, Ireland's Inland Waterways (1988), 22-23,28-29,33-34,41-3,48-9,54,65,68,74-9,84,86, which see for further details of Omer's activities on behalf of the Commissioners of Inland Navigation.
Delany, op. cit., above, 22-23.
Delany, op. cit., above, 41.
CARD XI, 321.
Delany, op. cit., above, 34.
V.T.H. & D.R. Delany, The Canals of the South of Ireland (1966), 35.