Richard Fowler was born in Limerick in 1935. He served his engineering apprenticeship with Thomas Garland & Partners in Dublin. He then joined the firm of Ove Arup in Dublin before moving to their London office where he completed his training and studies to become a Chartered Engineer and a Fellow of the Institution of Structural Engineers (FIStructE).
He returned to Dublin to join the firm of Stanislaus Kenny and Partners before moving onto a position with the firm of Freeman, Fox and Partners to work with Mr. Oleg Aleksandrovich Kerensky as Senior Engineer on their bridge projects in Northern Ireland. He was subsequently invited to join their London office, which he declined and decided to remain in Northern Ireland with Craigavon Development Authority as a structural engineer. That decision was in no small part due to his reluctance to move his young family to London and he was to remain with his family in Northern Ireland from 1965 to 1974.
In 1974 he was offered positions with Dublin Corporation and Waterford Corporation. He decided to return from Northern Ireland with his family to accept a position with Dublin Corporation, initially with the Road Planning Section.
Richard Fowler was promoted to Principal Bridge Engineer in Dublin Corporation in 1976 and remained there until his retirement in 1996.
In his new position his first task was to immediately design a new bridge adjacent to Sean Heuston Bridge. A previous proposal to build a bridge at this location had been cancelled for financial reasons and a proposal to build the new Talbot Memorial Bridge adjacent to The Custom House was proceeded with. The construction of this latter bridge was programmed to be completed in 1978. In order to implement a plan to reverse traffic flows on the north and south quays of the River Liffey, it was critical that a bridge near Sean Heuston Bridge be constructed and work began in October 1980.
He initially mobilized a new design department to enable him to design this new bridge and over the next two decades was directly responsible for the design and delivery of almost all the new bridges in Dublin City. The list bridges, in chronological order, include:
- 1982 - Frank Sherwin Bridge over River Liffey
- 1984 - John McCormack Bridge over River Tolka
- 1986 - N4 Bridge over Kylemore Road
- 1988 - N4 Bridge at St. Laurence’s Road
- 1989 - N4 Footbridge at The Ranch, Ballyfermot
- 1990 - N4 Flyover at Chapelizod Hill Road
- 1994 - Mellowes Road Bridge over N2, Finglas
- 1995 - Footbridge over N2 at St. Margaret’s Roundabout, Finglas
Richard Fowler had a great capacity to design bridges taking into consideration the potential construction methods and future maintenance. He was scrupulous in his attention to detail and quality.
Above all else, Richard J. Fowler is best remembered in his professional career, not only as an engineer of the utmost calibre and integrity, but also as a colleague, friend and mentor to the many who had the privilege of working for him. He retired in 1996 to devote the rest of his life to his family.
He died in 2013.