Guidance is provided for geotechnical engineers designing civil engineering works in silty soils. A detailed characterization of two estuarine silt sites in Ireland is performed and the soil properties are linked to their geological origin. It was found that these soils are susceptible to densification by conventional and high-quality fixed piston tube sampling and care needs to be taken when using laboratory-derived design parameters, particularly for consolidation and shear strength properties. The 1D consolidation and creep of these silts can be modelled successfully by the well-known Janbu formulation. Settlement predictions from laboratory-derived parameters match measured data reasonably well, but tend to underestimate primary consolidation, consistent with a sampling densification effect. Vane data should be used with caution, as measured strength values may be high, and it seems that more reliable parameters can be derived from cone penetration tests. Conventional techniques for determining soil strength from triaxial tests in silt are inappropriate because of the dilational nature of the material, and more reliable and logical strength estimates can be made from a limiting strain criterion.