A familiar face retires from Donegal County Council after 43 years

By Dionne Meehan

A LONG-SERVING member of staff has retired from Donegal County Council after a whopping 43 years of service.

Beginning his career with the council in 1981, Jim McLaughlin (‘Widaw’) worked in Lifford as a Civil Engineering Technician.


Blessed with the opportunity to study while he worked, Jim gained his Civil Engineering degree in 1990.

Securing himself his first big job soon after, the Culdaff native went to Killybegs to work on a £10 million project.

Describing this opportunity as a “good one to start off with”, Jim later went on to work on the Muff Sewerage Scheme before taking on the role as Local Roads Engineer for North Inishowen in 1998.

“I came in 1998 and I never left,” Jim joked.

Over the past 25 years, Jim has overseen and implemented €50 million worth of funding into infrastructure projects throughout North Inishowen.

Faced with many bumps in the road down through the years, Jim said he will never forget the floods in August 2017.

“Inishowen was virtually cut off from the rest of Donegal,” he said.


“We had over 300 locations of the road damaged.

“That varied from sections of roads just broken up with the storm and main bridges being wiped out,” he said.

With two bridges completely wiped out overnight, Jim spoke of the pressure they faced to repair the damage ahead of the Irish Open which was coming to Ballyliffin in 2018.

“In the end up things did work out well,” he said.

Over the last 43 years Jim has witnessed major changes in his line of work, especially when it comes to technology.

Beginning his career with only one computer allocated to each department, Jim spoke of the “big white box” that sat on top of a “square black computer”.

“That was connected up to what we called the mainframe in the County House in Lifford.

“You were only allowed one for each office at that time because it would overload the mainframe,” he said.

But in his later years, he became quite the wizz-kid.

“Nowadays, for the roadworks programme, we have all sorts of apps on tablets and smartphones for carrying out road condition surveys, health and safety surveys and doing up costing.

“That would have been a big change,” he said.

Thoroughly enjoying his time working at Donegal County Council, Jim said he was fortunate to have good colleagues working alongside him.

Now looking forward to some well-earned downtime, he has plans to travel to Boston and Chicago with his wife Grainne.

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