The Exhibition

Michael Maurice O’Shaughnessy (1864-1934): Engineering the Promised Land

NUI Galway is delighted to host an exhibition that celebrates the acquisition of this personal archive of our alumnus, Michael Maurice O’Shaughnessy. This exhibition will be on display in the Hardiman Research Building from 10 October 2017 to spring 2018. Admission is free, and opening hours correspond with that of the Library.

Its narrative takes the visitor from his early influences growing up and attending University in the West of Ireland, through the accomplishments in his career that defined his legacy to San Francisco and civil engineering. Highlights include his irrigation work in Hawaii, his appointment as City Engineer in San Francisco in 1912 and subsequent overhaul of the city’s water and sewerage systems. His interest in the Shannon Scheme in Ireland is also explored in this exhibition.

Selected extracts from his unpublished memoir Engineering Experiences: From Honolulu to Hetch Hetchy add O’Shaughnessy’s distinctive voice to the exhibition’s narrative. The Promised Land referred to in the exhibition’s title echoes the impression California made on him as he first approached it by rail in 1885 at the age of 21.

‘The most impressive sight was the balmy early morning down the west slope of the Sierras going in to California. It was spring, the grass was green, and the sky bright and the air fragrant and balmy, which led me to believe I had reached the promised land’