Irish in construction industry

Building a forum for Irish know-how

Michael Cahalane is one of the driving forces behind the newly-formed Club Hibernia.

Michael Cahalane is one of the driving forces behind the newly-formed Club Hibernia.

A GROUP of Irish Australians are banding together to launch a new networking organisation for construction industry professionals in New South Wales.

Called Club Hibernia, launched this week, will meet quarterly in Sydney for ‘networking, knowledge-sharing and social events’. 

Michael Cahalane, a civil engineer from Cork, was one of the people who came up with the idea.

”We had a conversation over a few pints that there was no real forum or networking association for Irish professionals in the construction industry,” he said.

”There’s such a large population of us working in the industry now. We decided there might be some value out of it.”

Some of the people who've been signing up include contractors, architects, engineers, quantity surveyors and project managers.  While Irish people are in the majority, you don't have to be Irish to join..

“It’s been formed by Irish people and there is a very Irish tint to it, but there are already plenty of people who work with us who aren’t Irish who are coming along," Mr Cahalane said.

He said the construction industry was currently “very bullish in NSW”.

 “There is a massive infrastructure boom - projects like NorthConnex, WestConnex, the Sydney Metro, Sydney light rail….. and then you have all the commercial projects around Barangaroo and around Central Station. Residential is still quite strong too, so it is a really good industry to be in at the moment.”

He said many Irish construction staff who’d come here during the recession are now in senior positions.

He himself has been in Australia for 12 years and is a director at Warren Smith and Partners – a consulting engineering firm employing about 60 people.

Along with Mr Cahalane, the  other Club Hibernia committee members are: Jimmy Larkin (MBM); Pat Cronin (BDM Constructions); Cathy Hughes (Enterprise Ireland); Mick O’Driscoll (DCWC); Brian O’Mainin (Johnstaff); Francis Houlihan (Lend Lease); Elvire Callaghan (MSJ Architects); Ken O’Neill (Aurecon).

While their aim is to keep the quarterly events informal, they may have guest speakers in the future.

“At worst it will be a few pints and a bit of craic,” Mr Cahalane said.

“But hopefully people can get a bit of value out of it by making new contacts and doing some new business - or finding a new career path.”

To find out more, email Michael at