Ceremonies commemorate Cork founder of co-operative movement

ONE of the key founders of the Irish co-operative movement was commemorated this week with ceremonies in Mount Jerome Cemetery, Dublin, where he is buried, and in Churchtown, north Cork, where he was born 150 years ago.

Robert Andrew Anderson (1860-1942) was the first person to work with Sir Horace Plunkett on his mission of organising and promoting the co-operative benefits of better farming, better business and better living.

He was elected president of the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society, now ICOS, in 1933 and was also a former managing director of the Irish Agricultural Wholesale Society (IAWS).

A headstone was erected over his unmarked grave by the Irish Co-operative Organisation (ICOS) with the support of the Golden Jubilee Trust and IAWS.

ICOS president Pat McLoughlin and One51 plc chief executive Philip Lynch unveiled the headstone this week in memory of Anderson’s life and work.

Professor James Kennelly of Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York, and Anderson’s grand-niece Patricia Anderson of Vancover Island, British Colombia, Canada, travelled to Churchtown to unveil a commemorative plaque in the village square.

It was erected by Churchtown Village Renewal Trust, headed by Gerry Murphy, in a ceremony attended by ICOS secretary general John Tyrrell and Cork Co-op Marts chief executive Sean O’Sullivan.

Also present was Máiréad Nagle, whose late husband Billy, a former ICOS president, had advocated that Anderson should be honoured in his home parish.

Prof Kennelly, whose father Jim is from Finuge, Co Kerry, said the co-op movement was revolutionary. Anderson worked with it for 53 years.

Mayor of Churchtown Ripton Kelly, Noel Linehan, trustee of the Churchtown Village Renewal Trust, Matt Lawlee of Dairygold Co-op and Denis J Hickey, who presided, all spoke of how proud the community was of its link with Anderson.

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