Peadar Thomas who retired from Donegal County Council last week after 42 years service
Peadar Thomas is no stranger to our highways and byways but just last week his journey with Donegal County Council came to an end as he retired after 42 years with the local authority.
The popular Donegal Town based engineer has been associated with several sections within the council but is perhaps best known for his development of the roads, particularly in south and west Donegal.
Peadar began his career in the Road Design section at council headquarters in Lifford.
“I was there for four or five years and loved it. It was before the big money came with the NRA (National Roads Authority) jobs but the jobs we were undertaking at that time gave you a feel for the whole of the county. In fact it was probably the first time I realised how big this county was!”
He then moved on to the Sanitary Services section for the next 13 years and specialised in working with the extensive Group Water Scheme networks.
“All of that work was very community based as the schemes were being run on a voluntary basis by local committees. It was up to me to go out to these committees and get them to get their schemes off the ground, agree on a design, who was getting connections and stuff like that.”
He said two schemes in particular came to mind, the South Letterkenny Rural Scheme and Leitirmacaward that between them served over 1,000 houses.
“I remember totting up just how many houses were being served by group schemes at that time and it came to over 10,000 that was nearly one in every six houses in the county.”
Peadar then moved on to the Killybegs Engineers Area where he took over road maintenance.
“Between it and when I took over the Donegal area I saw a lot of major road jobs that transformed the south of the county. You had the likes of Ballyshannon, Bundoran, Ballintra, Laghey all by passed by the NRA but I suppose when I look back, my biggest involvement was in Killybegs with the development of three new roads there – the Shore Road, the approach road coming into the town and the Industrial Road.
“We basically ended up with a bypass around Killybegs and it was all done by ourselves in the council.”
Peadar added there was always plenty to do when you considered the different works in the various towns, the development of car parks such as the one at the quay in Donegal Town which opened up the bay area for many other uses.
“I’ve enjoyed the council from start to finish. I never woke up thinking ‘I don’t want to go to work today’. It has gone so fast because I’ve enjoyed myself. I have to say the one thing that made life easier was the workers I’ve been with over the years. The council workers are great and are very dedicated to their jobs too.”
Peadar is in no doubt that while much has been done there’s still plenty more to do.
“We need big money to transform the road network in the county. In my position I have to look at the big picture. The people in Malinbeg are just as important as the people in Donegal Town – you’re not going to keep everyone happy but you have to juggle what I have as best I can.”
Peadar was guest of honour at functions in Lifford and Donegal Town over the past few days to mark the end of his career but he promises he will still be a busy man.
“I’m going to take it easy for a month but I’ve a few things up my sleeve,” he said.
Peadar looking forward to his retirement with his wife Madeline and daughter Suzanne
- The 6,274km of road network in County Donegal consists of 148km of National Primary Roads, 156km of National Secondary Roads and 770km of Regional Roads leaving 5,200km of local road network.
- According to the last Census figures the most popular means of travelling to work was by car (driver) with this mode accounting for 64.2 per cent of all journeys.