Delap, Hugh Alexander (1906–97), engineer, was born 21 October 1906 at Newbay, Rosslare, Co. Wexford, third son of Alfred Dover Delap, civil engineer, and Jeannie Ethel Delap (née Jefferies), of Newbay. His father, subsequently a partner in the Dublin civil engineering firm of Delap & Waller, had been at that time engaged in construction works at Rosslare harbour. Hugh was educated, however, in Dublin, first at a private school (‘Miss Sweeney's’) in Foxrock, then at Castle Park, Dalkey, and subsequently at Rugby School, Warwickshire. Returning to Ireland, he studied engineering at TCD and graduated 1928. His father had moved to Dublin c.1912 and lived at Priorsland and Dangan, Carrickmines.
Hugh Delap began his civil engineering career by undertaking short-term projects around Ireland and then by joining Delap & Waller, where he remained until in 1938 he joined the Office of Public Works (OPW). He was promoted assistant chief engineer (1953) and chief engineer (1966), remaining until his retirement in 1971. Much of his career in the OPW involved developing harbour facilities around the country, most notably car ferry facilities at Dún Laoghaire, Co. Dublin. His social, even socialist, conscience was a driving force in his work as were his philanthropic interests. He had entered the public sector at least in part as a means of contributing, as a protestant professional from an outwardly unionist background, to the new national state. Determined also to play a useful individual role in 1930s independent Ireland, he created employment in Dublin through his own enterprise and that of his brother-in-law Paddy Somerville-Large by establishing the Mount Street Club, a philanthropic organisation to promote cooperative enterprise in Ireland. It had its own farm in Palmerstown, west Dublin, and sold agricultural produce through the once renowned Country Shop on St Stephen's Green. It also promoted wider distribution through the Country Markets Association. Through his marriage (27 July 1933) to Kathleen Hilda, daughter of solicitor Charles St George Orpen of Lisheens, Carrickmines, and Cerise Maria Orpen (née Darley), Delap had joined a family circle with a formidable pedigree of social and educational achievement. Kathleen was an achiever in her own right, member of the government commission on the status of women (1972) and mother of their two sons and two daughters, (Michael, Charles, Jean, and Anne) who made careers in engineering, journalism, medicine, and the arts respectively. Kathleen's younger sister Beatrice (qv), a subsequent president of the Irish Countrywomen's Association (ICA), married Chalmers (‘Terry’) Trench, founder of An Óige, the Irish youth hostel association, both of which organisations, with the club's assistance, were included among Hugh Delap's philanthropic interests. The Delaps lived initially at Priorsland until moving in 1942 to nearby Ards, Cabinteely, and later had a retreat, Na Mallaí, at Rosbeg, Co. Donegal, where they brought about an early community group water scheme.
Hugh and Kathleen Delap were also noted humanitarians who routinely championed the disadvantaged, particularly the travelling community, whose resettlement became a particular cause in the 1960s. Hugh was closely associated with his local church at Tullow, Brighton Road, Carrickmines, serving on its select vestry for many years. In his professional life he had been an active member (and subsequently a fellow) of the ICEI since joining as an associate member in 1933, publishing occasional papers in Transactions. He was a council member in 1964–8 and 1969–71, serving as president in 1973–4, and was also a member and fellow of the British ICE. After his retirement from the OPW in 1971, he worked as a consultant to the state-sponsored agricultural fertiliser industry Nitrigin Éireann Teo and to the Department of Defence. Throughout his active life Delap, like his father, was commonly regarded as a man of great personal integrity, always giving to others. Accordingly, when he died 27 January 1997, aged 90, at his Cabinteely home, he left his body to medical science and was remembered in a service of thanksgiving three days later at Tullow church.