Geotechnical Society of Ireland

Geotechnical Society of Ireland
Engineers Ireland
22 Clyde Road
Dublin 4

Tel: +353 (0)1 665 1300
Chairman: Ciaran Reilly (
Honorary Secretary: Ronan Travers (

Background and Membership

The Geotechnical Society of Ireland (GSI) was formed in 1977 as a separate Society within the Institution of Engineers of Ireland (IEI) and represents Ireland at the International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering. Membership of the GSI is open to all members of the IEI and to those actively engaged or otherwise interested in work lying within the scope of the Society. Members of the GSI participate in a wide range of European and International technical committees of ISSMGE.

A total of 49 persons attended the first GSI lecture in 1978. At present, the GSI has 65 members, of whom about 30 are members of the ISSMGE. Over 140 engineers in Ireland work primarily in the area of geotechnics.

The GSI is organised by a committee consisting of a chair person, honorary secretary and honorary treasurer, plus other committee members elected by the Society. The present officers of the GSI are Chair - Dr. Barry Lehane, Honorary Secretary - Dr. Kenneth Gavin, and Honorary Treasurer - Mr. Turlough Johnston. 

GSI annual programme
The committee members of the GSI meet prior to technical meetings, of which there are typically 10 per year. Most of the meetings deal with Irish case histories while occasional meetings deal with specific geotechnical research topics. At least one speaker per year is invited from overseas to deliver a lecture. Papers presented at meetings are published in the ‘Transactions of the Institution of Engineers of Ireland’.

Conferences and Seminars
The GSI organised the IX ECSMFE in Dublin in August 1987 and is preparing to host the YGEC in Dublin in September 2002. The GSI has organised a number of national seminars dealing with topics of particular relevance to Irish geotechnical engineers. These seminars have been more frequent in recent years and have included seminars on the following topics:

1. Field and laboratory testing of soils for foundations and Embankments - May 1989
2. Investigation of karst areas and remedial measures adopted for roads and structures – February 1995
3. Road embankments on soft ground in Ireland - March 1996
4. Site Investigation Practice in Ireland – April 1998
5. Young Geotechnical Researchers seminar – March 1999

Forthcoming seminars scheduled for 2001 deal with (i) the Specification for Earthworks, and (ii) Cone Penetration Testing. The GSI also runs on-going continuing professional development (CPD) courses covering many of the major areas of geotechnics.

Available Conference and Seminar Proceedings:

Groundwater effects in geotechnical engineering.
Publisher: A.A. Balkema, PO Box 1675, NL-3000 BR Rotterdam, Netherlands.

Field and laboratory testing of soils for foundations and Embankments.
Publisher: Department of Civil Engineering, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland.

Investigation of karst areas and remedial measures adopted for roads and structures.
Publisher: Department of Civil Engineering, University College Cork, Ireland.

Road embankments on soft ground in Ireland.
Publisher: The Institution of Engineers of Ireland, 22 Clyde Road, Dublin 4, Ireland.

Site Investigation Practice in Ireland.
Publisher: The Institution of Engineers of Ireland, 22 Clyde Road, Dublin 4, Ireland.

List of Outstanding Achievements and Personalities
Most notable recent achievements have included (i) the European and national work on EC7 by Drs. Trevor Orr and Eric Farrell, (ii) research on piled foundations by Dr. Barry Lehane, (iii) research on sampling disturbance by Dr. Michael Long, and (iv) characterisation of the soils in the Dublin area by all research staff at Trinity College Dublin. Committee members of the GSI have also recently completed a new National Specification and Related Documentation for Ground Investigation in Ireland.

Dr. Trevor Orr
Dr. Barry Lehane

Chairman's Report 2014
Dear colleagues,

As our lecture series for 2013 / 2014 draws to a close I think it would be useful to highlight some of the activities and progress made by the Geotechnical Society during the past year.


Firstly, I hope you managed to attend one or more of our lecture events. Owing to falling numbers at the traditional evening meetings at Clyde Road we have grouped a number of talks together and presented them at half day events in the autumn and spring. We would appreciate any feedback you may have on the format of the talks.

Our autumn event was the Professor Eamon Hanrahan memorial organised by UCD on the topic of the mechanics of peat. The event featured speakers from the Netherlands (Prof Evert Den Haan) and Sweden (Peter Carlson) in additional to a wide variety of speakers from Ireland. It is encouraging to see the progress being made with this difficult material. The presentations are available on the Geotechnical Society’s webpages. Great credit is due to Dr Mike Long and the organising team for this event.

Our spring event features a wide variety of projects. Dr Chris Menkiti (Geotechnical Consulting Group), a familiar presence in Ireland from his Dublin Port Tunnel work and current Chairman of the British Geotechnical Association, is our invited guest lecture. Additional talks are provided by Dr David Gill (AGL Consulting) on the geotechnical properties of Dublin Port clay, Dr Paul Doherty (GDG) and John Donohoe (Bord na Mona) on geotechnical challenges for shallow foundations supporting wind turbines, and John O’Connor (Byrne Looby Partners) on Geotechnical Risk Management on STEP Project in Abu Dhabi. We are grateful to sponsorship provided by Irish Tar Geotechnical Division for this event.

We hosted a joint talk with the Civil Division by Úna Fitzgerald (RPS) on the fate of surplus soil and stone arisings on construction projects in January. We also hosted a joint lecture with the IAH presented by Mike Cambridge on ‘The Role of Water in the Failure of Mine Waste Facilities from Initiation to Degradation’ at the Geological Survey of Ireland.

Young Geotechnical Engineer events

Following an improvement in the Society’s finances we were once again able to sponsor young geotechnical engineers at attending international conferences. Shane Doohan (AGL Consulting) and Luke Prendergast (UCD) were sponsored to attend the ISSMGE Young Geotechnical Engineers conference in Paris in September 2013. We recently held a competition for the upcoming Young Geotechnical Engineers European conference in Barcelona. Seven entries were received and the standard of presentations was excellent. After a difficult judging decision Brian Sheil and Martin Timoney (both from NUI, Galway) were selected to attend. Many thanks to David Green (IGSL) and Prof. Mark Dyer (TCD) for assisting with the judging.

Ground investigation specification

The ground investigation specification is being updated based on the recently revised edition published by Thomas Telford. We have an opportunity to modify the specification to suit our needs. The standard of ground investigation specifications received by contractors vary in quality and in some cases are very poor. The revised specification outlines what an engineer expects from the ground investigation in a manner that is readily transparent. It is hoped that the revised ground investigation specification will be used more frequently and on all State and semi state projects.


The Geotechnical Society is involved with NSAI on a number of fronts. Dr Eric Farrell and Prof. Trevor Orr continue to represent Ireland on a number of Eurocode 7 committees. NSAI TC015 SC7 has been established to review Eurocode 7 in Ireland. The current members are Eric Farrell, Andy Wilkins, Carl Brangan, Ciaran Reilly, David Gill, Fintan Buggy, Mark Peters, Patrick Casey, Paul Quigley (Arup) and Trevor Orr. If you are interested in contributing to this group please contact Eric Farrell.

S.R. 21:2014 was developed by the Aggregates Panel of NSAI's Roads Standards Committee. I.S. EN 13242:2002 +A1:2007 specifies the properties of aggregates for use in unbound and hydraulically bound materials.  S.R. 21:2014 is a complete revision of S.R. 21:2004+A1:2007 and provides advice on the use of I.S. EN 13242:2002+A1:2007 in Ireland where guidance is deemed necessary. Paul Quigley (IGSL) and Michael Robinson have represented the Geotechnical Society on this group.

Public works contract

Engineers Ireland and the Association of Consulting Engineers of Ireland are consulting with the Department of Public Procurement on a review of the Public Works Contract suite. The Geotechnical Society has passed on comments on some issues with the contracts.


The Treasurer’s report is appended to this report. I’m happy to report that the finances of the Society remain in a healthy position following the success of the Roads Seminar last year. Expenditure greatly exceeded income due to the payment of late ISSMGE fees, sponsorship of students to two international conferences and expenses relating to the autumn and spring events. Sources of income included a stipend from Engineers Ireland towards our expenses, subscriptions for international societies and the Geotechnical Society for non-members of Engineers Ireland and sponsorship from Irish Tar Geotechnical Division for our spring seminar. 

International societies

Ireland has 15 members of ISSMGE. A large number of abstracts were received for the upcoming XVI European Conference on Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering in September 2015 in Edinburgh.  In order to be accepted at least one author must be an member of ISSMGE through the National Society (i.e. Geotechnical Society of Ireland). The ISSMGE is seeking an update on Irish membership numbers for 2014. Under ISSMGE rules, membership of ISSMGE through an alternative National Society such as the BGA or ASCE does not permit you to submit a paper through the Geotechnical Society of Ireland. This affects anyone submitting an abstract for the upcoming conference in Edinburgh in 2015 or any other ISSMGE sponsored event through the National Society. 

The Geotechnical Society offers membership to two other international societies: International Association for Engineering Geology (IAEG) and International Society for Rock Mechanics (ISRM). Subscriptions for these societies are minimal and probably insufficient to sustain a National Group for these societies.

The ISSMGE International Conference was hosted in Paris and the Irish papers were presented by Mike Long, Frank O’Leary, Maurice Ryan and Michael Looby (Deep excavation in Irish glacial deposits) and Fintan Buggy (Deformation Performance and Stability Control of Multi-stage Embankments in Ireland).


There was considerable success for Irish geotechnical engineers at the ICE 2013 Publishing Awards.

Professor Trevor Orr (TCD) was awarded the Crampton Prize for his paper ‘The effect of Eurocode 7 on geotechnical design: a review’, which was published in ICE Geotechnical Engineering. The prize is awarded annually by the ICE for the best paper on practical geotechnical engineering. The paper describes some of the issues that have arisen and difficulties that have been encountered with the introduction of Eurocode 7, and the plans for the future development of Eurocode 7.

Dr Michael Long (UCD), Dr Carl Brangan (AGEC), Michael Looby (Byrne Looby and Partners) and Patrick Casey (Arup) along with Dr Christopher Menkiti (GCG) received the John Mitchell medal for their paper ‘Retaining Walls in Dublin Boulder Clay, Ireland’ published in ICE Geotechnical Journal. The John Mitchell medal is awarded annually for the best paper in Geotechnical practice, site-based innovation, or geotechnical safety. The paper presented a series of case histories which suggest that the behaviour of the walls in Dublin Boulder Clay is very rigid and much stiffer than comparable systems worldwide. There appears to be scope for developing more efficient designs and in particular for reducing propping requirements. For temporary works, the use of undrained parameters in serviceability limit state calculations together with implementation of the observational approach on site could be considered for future schemes.

Martin Timoney (NUI, Galway) and Dr Bryan McCabe (NUI Galway) along with Dr Alan Bell (Keller Ground Engineering UK) were awarded Telford Premium Prize 2013 for their research paper on 'Experiences of dry soil mixing in highly organic soils' published in ICE Ground Improvement. A large database of stabilised strengths suggested that cement and a cement/ground granulated blast furnace slag combination are the most suitable binders for peat soils, and that the ratio of mass of water to mass of binder and the von Post classification H value are important indicators of stabilised strength.

Paul Quigley (Arup) and Alan Phear were shortlisted for best paper or presentation at the Engineers Ireland Excellence Awards for their presentation ‘Some geotechnical aspects of the A30 Montreal’. Paul Quigley (IGSL) was shortlisted for Volunteer of the Year in recognition of his work with the Geotechnical Society, NSAI and Engineers Ireland. 

Future events

We hope that you can provide us with some feedback on the events held this year and what events you would like to attend. We are considering an event to launch the revised ground investigation specification later this year. We are also considering doing a masterclass series of talks on various topics such as laboratory testing and scheduling, pile design, aggregate testing and earthworks. Please check your Engineers Ireland account settings to ensure that you are included on our mailing list. We have created a Linkedin account and will provide updates on our activities on both this page and the Engineers Ireland events calendar. The Geotechnical Society has a good track record providing events that leaves our audience wanting more. Your contributions to the on-going success of our society would be welcome.

Paul Quigley
Chartered Engineer
Chairman, Geotechnical Society of Ireland