Thursday 5 October, 2017

Founding Father Dr. C.S. Todd Andrews (1901-1985)

Taken from: Scéal na Móna, Vol.13, No.41, April 2002, p.18-21

In conversations with Sceal na Móna Dr C. S. Andrews, the First Managing Director of Bord na Móna, has been variously described by bygone employees. Perhaps the employee who knew him best was Ann Foley of Knockcroghery in Co Roscommon, since she was his personal secretary for 19 years before entering the enclosed Visitandine Order where she became Sister Patricia Maria. Ann knew him even before coming to work with the Turf Development Board (TDB) since her sister had married his college friend Dr Matt Peppard. She said he was “fair but strict”, and that she “got on alright with him”, although he spoke too fast when she was required to take dictation. When he heard she was leaving to enter a nunnery he told her she was daft. Frances Dillane (nee Casey) informed Sceal na Móna that “Dr Andrews was an alright down to earth man with a good sense of humour”. That was obvious the day he entered Newbridge and heard E. V. Switzer speaking very loudly, “Who’s he talking to”, he asked and when told the conversation was with someone in Head Office in Dublin, replied, “tell him to use a telephone the next time”. Lewis Rhatigan, who eventually became Managing Director himself, told of playing endless games of scrabble with him on inter-continental train journeys, and how you were better off letting him win. His humour wasn’t always apparent when he visited outlying Bord na Móna Work Camps though, where many employees were annoyed that he totally ignored them, some even claim that he had a habit of covering his face with his hands and observing them through his meshed fingers. One man said that he worked in an office beside him for years and only got to speak with him when he gave in his notice to leave -summoning him to his office the Managing Director asked why he was leaving and the statement that he was going to a job with more pay ended the discussion abruptly. But while he was considered crusty and serious throughout much of Bord na Móna, the employees of Glenties Works in Donegal had a totally different story of him. Accountant Mannix Boyle told of how he would enter the Works and throwing himself into a chair with his feet outstretched across Mannix’s desk, ask, “Well Mannix, how’re the fish biting”. That evening, and others along with it, would be spent in pursuit of brown trout on the nearby lake. The Popes have had Castlegandolfo, the Queen of England Balmoral Castle, the Presidents of the USA Camp David, and no doubt “Todd” Andrews had Glenties, where he could relax after the bustle of the Midland bogs.

He was born in 1901 at No 22 Summerhill in Dublin, a house then set in a street of decaying Georgian residences overlooking the Dublin red-light district made famous by James Joyce and known as “the Monto”. His grandmother kept a dairy, and he considered the family to be of the “lower middle class of the Catholic population” of a city which was then very much a part of Britain. In the first half of his autobiography, entitled “Dublin Made Me” he condenses his childhood experiences in Summerhill 22, where his grandmother ran a dairy, as “like a scaled-down version of Zoe Oldenburg’s account of daily life in the castle of an impoverished medieval baron. There was the same kind of comings and goings, of something constantly happening, of shortage of money, of the rough talk of men, of women sewing and stitching and cooking, of abundant food and continuous meals, of laughing and shouting and quarrelling, of horses, cattle, dogs and cats. Life was abundant and improvident”. The story of his boyhood, peopled by Dublin characters, his grandmother’s lodgers, employees, and numerous relatives; and when his parents moved to Terenure where he swam naked with other boys in the Dodder, might have come straight out of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn. It was then he got his nickname at a time when practically all small boys had one, he was called “Todd” after a character in The Magnet comic named, Alonzo Todd, whom he resembled in appearance. He attended St Enda’s school and always recalled with pride Patrick Pearse “the Man of Destiny of Modern Ireland” sitting in his parent’s parlour discussing school fees. He was only at St Enda’s for a short while and in fact didn’t like its Gaelicness since being nationalistic in a British Dublin was an entirely alien concept for young Dubliners then. His patriotic sense of lrishness had not yet woken and he relates, for example, how like most small Dublin boys then he had a contempt for Gaelic Football. His other recollections of Pearse were of the ancient Celtic legends of Cuchulainn and Fionn and the Red Branch Knights he would relate to his pupils and of a time he was sent to him for disciplining -he had been caught smuggling cigarettes into the school on the bequest of a friend. Pearse gave him “a mild lecture and four not very hurtful slaps with a cane”, so he points out that corporal punishment wasn’t excluded from the great man’s educational theories. Later he was sent to Synge Street CBS, where he became the most avid member of the school library. He was good at games, playing football (soccer); handball, swimming, cricket, hockey, billiards and snooker, he was a good shot with a rifle but since he disliked killing wild animals he preferred shooting at targets, and he fished the Dodder and Liffey with worms and flies. He eventually became a better than amateur soccer player, captaining the UCD team that won the Collingwood Cup in 1926 -but then his brother Patrick was a professional footballer and Irish International.

In March 1917, at 15 years of age, he joined the Rathfarnham Company of the Irish Volunteers -by then he was 6′ 3″ tall. In 1920 he was arrested, but following ten days of a hunger strike in Mountjoy Jail, was released. The following year he was arrested again and interned in the Curragh but managed to escape by tunnelling his way out with two friends.

Taking the Republican side in the Civil War, he was wounded and almost blinded whilst fighting on O’Connell Street, Dublin, and eventually captured by Free State troops when he was convalescing at the house of the Resident Medical Superintendent of Portrane Mental Hospital -on this occasion he escaped by slipping out the back door. Following that adventure he was selected among a small party of men that was sent to seize Baldonnell Aerodrome and commandeer an aeroplane loaded with bombs that were to be dropped on Government Buildings -he was the one designated to do the bombing. The plane was to be piloted by a former clerical student nicknamed “The Deacon”. To his relief the project was eventually abandoned since he had strong reservations regarding how well “The Deacon” could fly! Following action under fire with Commandant Frank Aiken, he was appointed adjutant to General Liam Lynch, then IRA Chief of Staff. The cessation of hostilities came when Frank Aiken (who became Chief of Staff when Liam Lynch was shot in Tipperary) called a unilateral cease-fire, and Todd Andrews was interned in Newbridge Barracks (where Bord na Móna’s Group Centre is now located) as prisoner No 25761. He was later transferred to the Curragh, and Tintown No, 2 as Prisoner No 876 until his release in the Spring of 1924. With hostilities over, he returned to UCD where he graduated with a B.Comm.

Following the Civil War, Todd Andrews found himself mainly involved in what he termed “various Republican coteries based on nothing more than good fellowship” and having little social relationships other than with those who had supported their Republican cause. During this period he met his wife-to-. be, Mary Coyle, who had been a member of the executive of Cumann na mBan and a dispatch carrier for Dick Mulcahy, the IRA Chief-of-Staff in the Black and Tan period. Mary had been arrested twice, but had jumped to freedom from a window on the first occasion. Her second arrest led to a year in Kilmainham Jail and a 14-day hunger strike. So obviously they were suited to each other, and although he had hitherto been too busy to be interested in girls, he was quite smitten by Mary. He also admits to his knees having trembled always in the presence of Madame Maud Gonne McBride despite her being much older than him, saying “all the stories that have been told of her beauty, charm and goodness, were authentic as far as I was concerned”.

His first job was with the Irish Tourist Association (ITA) which was founded in 1924, and while in that position he got married. The wedding was a simple affair, he went to confession for the first time since the Civil War, (since the Irish Bishops had denied Republicans the sacraments), met Mary at 6:00AM at Haddington Road Church for the ceremony, and afterwards returned to her home in Mespil Road for a breakfast prepared by her sisters. A bottle of Champagne on the breakfast table remained unopened ­no one wanted to drink!

In 1930 he was appointed to the post of Chief Inspector of Accounts in the ESB, but his boat finally came in after the Fianna Fail Government took office in 1932 and he was placed in charge of turf development by Sean Lemass who was then Minister for Industry and Commerce. The basis of the new turf production scheme, utilizing traditional hand cutting methods, was conceived initially by Frank Aiken, who was Minister for Co-ordination of Defensive Measures during the World War II Emergency years. In the second volume of his autobiography, entitled “Man of No Property”, Todd Andrews states emphatically that ” … without Aiken there would never have been a Bord na Móna”, and that the company’s name had been chosen by Aiken and himself because ” it sounded well” and basically was more acceptable than any English version.

In “Man of No Property” he outlines the development of Bord na Móna from the initial scepticism of the “mainly ‘Free State'” Civil Service, through the contribution of the “Hand Won Scheme “(utilizing traditional methods) during the fuel shortages of the Emergency years, into the amazing development of mechanized turf cutting and the eventual emergence of milled peat. His adoption of a milled peat stance came about largely on the suggestion of Mechanical Engineer Jim Martin and the drive of Chief Mechanical Engineer Paddy Cogan. Along with the company’s development he also helped to mastermind the evolution of its absolutely amazing workforce through the installation of a revolutionary working camp system which housed migratory employees and the eventual emergence of company­built model villages to instigate permanence. His willingness to embrace technological advancement is seen in his fact-finding pilgrimages to Germany and the USSR. The evolution of Bord na Móna from the early Turf Development Board (TDB) can be described perhaps as Ireland’s only industrial revolution, with Todd Andrews firmly at the helm. Along the way he acknowledged the collusion and assistance of such diverse personages as Sir John Purser Griffin, who handed over his peat interests at Turraun to the TDB for a nominal sum; William Norton TD, Labour Tanaiste and Minster of Industry and Commerce in the 2nd Inter-party Government, who was a staunch supporter of early Bord na Móna when Fianna Fail was not in office; and Sir Hugh Beaver, Managing Director of Arthur Guinness, Son and Company, who organized the generous loan toward the building of briquette factories at Croghan and Derrinlough.

When he finally left Bord na Móna in September 1958 to take on the Chairmanship of Coras Iompair Eireann (CIE), he left a modern company which he had mainly developed from a collection of wildernesses -it could be said he had succeeded in what had been almost a “Mission Impossible” situation.

CIE was then losing millions, so he introduced stringent cost-cutting methods which reduced the deficit to an annual £250,000, before being appointed Chairman of Radio Telefis Eireann (RTE) in 1966. The following year Mary died, as he states “not before she had the gratification of seeing her five children securely married and of welcoming into the world the first four of our 19 grandchildren”. In an RTE interview he stated proudly that despite their own youthful experiences, Mary and he had managed to rear their children without instilling in them the bitterness left after the Civil War. He married Joyce Duffy, the daughter of Edward Duffy “a distinguished Engineer and peat expert”, some years later, and finally passed to his eternal reward on October 11th 1985.

He had the rare distinction of having been honoured with doctorates by the National University of Ireland, Queen’s University Belfast, and the University of Dublin. He was President of the Institute of Management and of the Institute of Public Administration and a Member of the Arts Council of Ireland.

His sons David and Niall have both had distinguished political careers. David Andrews TD was first elected to Dail Eireann in 1965 and at each subsequent election. He was Parliamentary Secretary to Taoiseach Jack Lynch and also Minister for Defence between 1970 and 1973; Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs from 1977 to 1979; Minister for Foreign Affairs and eventually Minister for Defence and the Marine under Taoiseach Albert Reynolds; and Minister for Foreign Affairs under Taoiseach Bertie Ahern. During his Ministry the Good Friday Agreement was signed in 1998 and Ireland joined the Partnership for Peace in 1999. He retired as Minister for Foreign Affairs in January 2000. Niall Andrews MEP was first elected to the Dail in 1977, he was a Minister of State at the Department of the Environment; a Member of the Council of Europe from 1981 to 1984 and elected to the European Parliament representing Dublin. In 1984, a position he still holds. Both Andrews brothers campaigned actively for the release of the Guildford Four; Birmingham Six and Brian Keenan -Niall is now heavily involved in the drive to close Sellafield. Both are obviously following in their father’s footsteps.

To mark the centenary of Todd Andrews’ birth , the Lilliput Press re­published both volumes of his autobiography in 2001. In his worthwhile Foreword to the 2001 edition of “Dublin Made Me”, David Andrews TD makes a suitable quote with which to finish this tribute: “Todd Andrews in his professional life may have been perceived as a hard man -but his integrity and honesty shone through his various careers; Bord na Móna; Coras Iompair Eireann; and Radio Telefis Eireann. His real monument is Bord na Móna. Many jobs were created and many homes built in the Midlands on the back of the harvesting of turf and the making of peat briquettes. Mr Aiken and Mr Lemass were the visionaries on turf, but without my father the project would not have happened. His enthusiasm, energy and leadership were the real essence of the success of the development of our bogs”.