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Forgotten Heroes:  Jack Woodfull, Boilermaker, Inchicore Railway Works, Dublin, Brilliant but Simple Innovation during Emergency/WW2, Innovation, on the Mississippi River Boats, Secret British Government Cabinet Committee headed by Lord Cranbourne restrictions of Supplies to Ireland to Secure Treaty Ports, Comparison with other Neutral Countries Rail Systems in Sweden, Portugal and Argentine, near starvation in Holland, Todd Andrew’s assertion ‘In Ireland no one starved or went without heat to cook a meal’, closure of Schull to Skibbereen Railway, the Foresight of Dr. Thomas  McLaughlin and Paddy McGilligan in the Shannon Scheme making Ireland uniquely almost self sufficient in Electricity.

A book by Dr. Peter Rigney, ‘TRAINS, COA; ADN TURF’ (IrishAcademic Press 2010) sets out the background to trying to run a rail service with restrictions on the supply of Welsh anthracite.

The British Government attempted to secure the return of the Treaty Ports by restricting the supply of coal.  This secret committee had the support of Churchill.  The Ambassador in Dublin advised against as he said the Irish would prefer to starve rather then give up the Treaty Ports of Cobh, Swilly and Berehaven.  The policy was a failure and supplies were restored but not to a sufficient amount.

The innovation, simple was of considerable benefit and the author puts it in the realm of similar technical steps which go unrecorded.  Jack Woodfull may be relate to the Woodfulls of the Music Group ‘The Wolfe Tones’  The Inchicore workshops were a centre of technical innovation and improvisation to struggle to maintain a transport system against the odds.

Very fewEuropean countries were self sufficient in electricity during WW2, Ireland was except when water level were low on the River Shannon.


In the popular imagination the rail service was terrible but this was compare to Britain which had some of the best coal in the world.  Compared to other neutral countries the performance was in fact pretty good.

Todd Andrew headed Bord na Mona, the Turf Development Board, later Chairman of CIE the State Transport Company and RTE the State Broadcasting Company.  Author of a very blunt and forthright two part. autobiography



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