Rishworth, Frank Sharman (1876–1960), civil engineer and university professor, was born at Ballymoate Lodge, eldest son of John Rishworth of Tuam, Co. Galway, and Hannah Rishworth (née Sharman). He was educated at the Ranelagh School, Athlone, Co. Westmeath, and at QCG. An outstanding science scholar throughout his undergraduate career (1894–8), he achieved first place in each examination, graduating (1898) in both arts and engineering. In 1898–1901 he was an assistant engineer in Britain, notably on the Great Northern Railway in Derbyshire and in London, where he worked at King's Cross on early designs for underground tube railways.
In 1902 he joined the Egyptian ministry of education to improve indigenous public works by means of a civil service transfer scheme under the British occupation. Lecturing at the school of engineering in Giza on subjects ranging from railways to irrigation, he also worked on the first Aswan dam, raised on the River Nile in 1902. In 1910 he received from the khedive the Order of Medjidieh, 3rd class (commander), after which he returned to Ireland as professor of civil engineering at UCG (1910–46).
Rishworth was progressive in advocating modern urban transport schemes when many infrastructural initiatives were doomed by inertia, and he was popular as a professor who cared for the welfare of his students. He was closely involved with college life for most of his professional career: in addition to his academic duties he was a member of the governing body 1912–37 and of the senate of NUI 1939–49. His department acquired substantial teaching premises in the college grounds during 1912–14. In 1925 the Free State government requested leave of absence for Rishworth to become chief engineer on its pioneering Shannon hydro-electric scheme, concentrated around Ardnacrusha, Co. Clare. His Egyptian experience fitted him to the task of overseeing the project, independently proposed to cabinet by Dr Thomas McLaughlin (qv), a recent engineering graduate of UCG known to the professor. Although McLaughlin had worked out the Shannon scheme in his own capacity, arising from observations made in Germany when working for the electrical firm Siemens Schuckert, C. S. ‘Todd’ Andrews (qv) implies in his blunt memoirs that McLaughlin had acquired the idea of the scheme from Rishworth himself while they worked together in Galway. This may have been so, but Rishworth does not seem to have claimed credit, and served willingly on the project as a resident expert, drawing up the contract documents and settling in for three years of hard work.
His optimism contrasted with the forces of opposition (especially from the new Fianna Fáil party) towards the ‘white elephant’ on the Shannon funded by the Free State government. In addition, Siemens Schuckert, the contractor engaged to carry out the scheme, clashed from the start with Irish trade unions, precipitating a strike in Limerick through the winter of 1925–6. Siemens disagreed with Rishworth himself over estimates, payments, and the division of labour between Irish and German workers at a time when almost any job in Europe was difficult to find. The firm regarded him as the inflexible agent of Patrick McGilligan (qv), Free State minister for industry and commerce, and the stand-off remained unresolved when the Shannon scheme opened, eight months behind schedule, in October 1929. It was controlled by the semi-state Electricity Supply Board (ESB), established in 1927 under McLaughlin's managing directorship.
In spite of his industrial troubles, Rishworth had attracted government approval during his tenure at Ardnacrusha, leading to his reengagement on other projects after 1929, such as the drainage commission of 1938–40. He thus divided his time increasingly between Dublin and Galway. In 1936–8 he was president of the Institution of Civil Engineers of Ireland, and for a decade from 1939 served as a member of the NUI senate. He and his English wife, Mary, daughter of William Beecroft of Eastgrove, Keighley, Yorkshire, had no children. They lived at 29 Leeson Park, Ranelagh, where Frank Rishworth died 31 March 1960.