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An Appreciation: Harry Hannon

Harry Hannon – President of the Chartered Institute of Transport in 1977/78 – died recently in his 91st year. He was born in 1924, son of Reginald Hannon, a well-known Athy miller. He was plain Henry Hannon – no middle name – as after seven other children his mother said they had run out of names. He was educated at Kilkenny College and Mountjoy School where he excelled at sports but disapproved of rugby – too rough and dangerous – and would not play.

In 1947 he left the Bank to join Guinness as a junior clerk in the Traffic Dept. and progressed steadily, finally joining the main Guinness Board as Distribution Director in 1977. During and after his Guinness career he was also President of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, the first Director of the Irish Brewers Association, an Irish representative on the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels and, of course, President and Fellow of CILT an organisation he always supported and much admired. He was Special Advisor on Transport to the Minister for Communications, the late Jim Mitchell. Harry’s interest in transport was life long.

He pioneered many changes in Guinness: cutting the rail link from Victoria Quay to Heuston Station – imagine trains led by a shunter with a flag running slowly along Johns Road today. He mechanised keg handling and loading and made use of greater lorry loads as soon as legislation permitted. One of his major Guinness achievements was the introduction of tanker ships to transport stout in bulk to the UK – a cost reduction exercise which allowed Dublin to retain its share of the British Guinness trade. His various efficiency measures made significant cost savings. He was a great supporter of CIE/Irish Rail, and believed strongly in rail transport for long-haul freight operations.

As a manager he had an unsurpassed reputation for staff development. He was a superb team builder, promoting solely on ability, demanding perfection from subordinates, driving them hard but giving them scope,  training and experience which they subsequently much appreciated. All his proteges ( locally known as the “Traffic Mafia”) did well in their subsequent careers. He was a man of much charm, sociability and fun, keen on shooting, golf (Rathfarnham) and tennis (Fitzwilliam – of which he was President in 1981). He retired from Guinness in 1983 but continued to serve as its representative on the Irish Brewers Association.

Tony Prendergast FCILT.



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