Half a century of M&E excellence

13 Sep , 2019  

Specialising in the full design, installation and service of mechanical, electrical, heating and renewable systems, award-winning M&E engineering contractor Sean Horan Ltd. recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. Building Ireland travelled to Ballintubber, County Mayo and had a chat with director Noelle Horan to find out more about this trail-blazing, family-run operation.

Established in 1986, Sean Horan Ltd. is an award-winning mechanical, electrical and renewable contractor serving the industrial, state and commercial sectors in the west of Ireland. As a family-run business, they take great pride in handling every aspect of their commissions from start to finish, instilling the utmost professionalism, attention to detail and excellence in personal service.

Sean Horan’s vast experience and expertise has led to the company becoming one of the leading service providers on small, medium and largescale projects. By consistently delivering solutions to the very highest standards pertaining to the construction industry, Sean Horan Ltd. is a pioneering business that has consistently embraced new innovations over the years, firmly establishing the renowned County Mayo based M&E contractors as leaders in their chosen field, culminating in a steady volume of repeat business and also garnering a succession of major industry awards.

In 2017, for example, they were awarded Plumbing & Heating Magazine’s Best Renewable Project in Ireland for innovative renewable energy work carried out at the Irish Wheelchair Association’s premises in Belmullet. as part of the SEAI Better Energy Communities scheme led by Mayo County Council in partnership with Údaras na Gaeltachta.

And, last year, Sean Horan Ltd. was shortlisted in the Commercial Electrical Project of the Year category at Ireland’s Electrical Awards for their conversion of Unit 2B into a welding unit at the Industrial Estate in Attycunnane, Belmullet.

The Plumbing & Heating Magazine Renewable Project of the Year award – recognising the manner in which the company has successfully diversified business and expanded their areas of operation over the years – was presented to founder Sean and his son Michael at a gala function in the Mansion House, specifically honouring the manner in which the use of renewable technology had enhanced the energy efficiency and sustainability of the aforementioned retrofit project in Belmullet.

The project involved Sean Horan Ltd completing a Photovoltic (PV) Installation (PV energy being the direct conversion of sunlight into electricity). It included the supply, installation and commissioning of a ground-mounted, grid-connected 11kW solar PV array, interconnected to the building’s three-phase power supply.

Sean Horan Ltd. has vast experience in installing renewable technologies and this PV installation offered some unique aspects. The site conditions were tight and on a challenging coastal location, while the installation of the south-facing, ground-mounted 11kW solar PV system was carried out on an active building.

As the IWA’s Resource and Outreach Centre for the Erris area, the charity provides a wide variety of services from these facilities including day services for 110 people with disabilities and the elderly on a weekly basis, as well as for other local groups using their rooms. It was vital for the client and their service users that their daily activities were not disrupted.

In addition, Sean Horan Ltd. had to plan ahead to ensure the PV installation was accessible – including for wheelchair users. The IWA facilitated a series of visits to their premises to highlight the energy-saving nature of the installation and the monetary savings it is making by using PV panels.

The limited company was set up in 1978, by Sean and his wife Helen, and customer service has been a cornerstone of the business ever since. With son Michael and daughter Noelle now involved in the day-to-day running of the family business, the Horans are particularly proud to have been able to work with many of the same clients over the years – testament to the company’s ability to build lasting relationships by offering practical solutions to suit a client’s requirements or constraints.

Demonstrating innovation by continuously adapting to changes in technology, Sean Horan Ltd.’s ability to move with – if not ahead of! – the times over the decades has seen them not only survive but thrive in one of the most challenging and competitive sectors of all.

Indeed, innovation has been one of the founder’s key traits since the genesis of the business. When he established his eponymous engineering contracting business by setting out as a sole trader all of 51 years ago, it was common for contractors to specialise in either mechanical or electrical contracting, but Sean broke the mould by opting to offer his clients both services under one roof, which was decidedly ground-breaking in the west at the time.

“Those were days when you trained with your employer only and he did the electrical first before deciding to also learn the mechanical side of things,” Noelle points out. “He was certainly one of the first in the area to set up his own business doing both.”

Being skilled in both M&E of course offers very obvious advantages to the client, who only needs to deal with one company, thus ensuring fully coordinated engineering solutions with no possible conflict: “Once you are on site you can provide a complete service,” says Noelle. “Clients don’t like to be fobbed off and we never dismiss anybody or send them off looking for an electrician or a plumber, as we are skilled in both.” 

Sean Horan Ltd. pride themselves on designing and installing bespoke mechanical and electrical solutions across a vast array of settings including school, factories, schools, hotels, health centres, churches and community centres, with a strong footprint all along the west coast, from Donegal to Clare.

One of the early projects secured was heating installations at St. Patrick’s Church and School, Killawalla and Sean went on to work on a variety of projects for the Industrial Development Authority (IDA), the Office of Public Works (OPW), Department of Education, Údarás na Gaeltachta, Health Service Executive (HSE) and many clients in the private sector. The company has also worked extensively at Knock Shrine, Knock Airport; Castlebar Library & Swimming Pool, Turlough House and Castlebar Army Barracks, to mention just a handful of other projects delivered.

Some recent projects include an oil-to-gas boiler conversion job at Westport College of Further Education for the Education & Training Board as well as ongoing boiler maintenance work for Galway City Council and regular work servicing the HSE’s community care facilities in Mayo.

“We also have a longstanding relationship with the Marine Institute, who have a salmon hatchery at Furnace, Newport,” Noelle continues. “We were involved in the initial installation of that hatchery 25 years ago and have carried out both mechanical and electrical maintenance work there ever since.” 

Each member of the team is involved in managing how Sean Horan Ltd. can make improvements today to last into the future. “We have an excellent team here at the moment, albeit somewhat smaller than it used to be,” Noelle confirms. “As a family business, we offer our clients a personal touch. We make sure every job is completed to the very highest standards because your reputation is everything and it’s vital that you maintain it.”

As advancing technology has changed the face of construction and related services beyond recognition, Sean, Michael and Noelle have proactively embraced modern trends, adapting a pioneering approach to the uptake of new advances.

This willingness to embrace the latest know-how has seen the family business diversify into renewable technologies over the past decade or so and they are now heavily involved in installing photovoltaic (PV) panels and carrying out energy upgrades rendering buildings more efficient.

“Quality of service is paramount and we are focussed on providing the most up-to-date options available at a competitive price,” Noelle concludes. “All of our staff are trained and upskilled in modern technology, and renewables is a growing market, with clients able to claim back rebates.

“We’ve become experienced in installing wind turbines, heat pumps, solar panels and PV installation and we feel that renewables are very much the way forward. We were the first in the west to be authorised by the SEAI for PV installations and we also had the distinction of installing the very first heat pump on Inisheer Island in Galway.”

More than half a century on, Sean Horan Ltd. is still setting the standards for others to follow.

Sean Horan Ltd.,



County Mayo.

Tel: 094 9030895

Fax: 094 903 0775

Email: [email protected]

Taken from Building Ireland Magazine, June, Vol 5 No 6