For all of his faults, which were neither few nor small, Sir Horace Plunkett, the founder of the Irish cooperative movement, left a tangible legacy – a network of co-operative enterprises that today dominate certain sectors of Irish agriculture. Yet today he is all but forgotten, a footnote to the Irish Revival and the tumultuous days of the Rising and the War of Independence. With his cooperative creameries burned by the British in 1921, and his own home of Kilteragh mined and burned by Republicans in 1923, Plunkett lived the remainder of his life in self-imposed exile in England. Trevor West wrote that “though his last decade was darkened by rejection and exile, he never abandoned a constructive vision of his country’s future, remaining an Irishman without rancour, an aristocrat with a desire to serve.”
Dr. James Kennelly has written several books and articles about modern farming, the emerging Irish economy, and cooperative agriculture. He is Professor of International Business & Management in the Department of Management & Business at Skidmore University.