Gallagher, Redmond (1914–2006), businessman and motor-racing enthusiast, was born in the family home at Dunwiley House in Stranorlar, Co. Donegal, on 27 February 1914, the youngest child of Henry Gallagher and his wife Eileen (née Cullen). He represented the third generation of a highly successful and resourceful business dynasty.
His paternal grandfather, Edward Gallagher (1839–1924), businessman and magistrate, was born 27 October 1839 in Co. Donegal, the eldest son of John Gallagher, farmer, of Desnach, a townland in Castlefinn, Co. Donegal, and his wife Rebecca (née Conaglen). In early 1867 Edward emigrated to America where he travelled rural areas selling bibles, amassing a considerable sum of money. Encouraged by his uncle Richard, who acted as distribution agent in the Castlefinn area for a London shirt firm and who later established a shirt factory at Castlefinn, Edward returned to Ireland in autumn 1869 and opened a draper's shop on Main Street, Strabane, Co. Tyrone. He employed Harriet (Anne) Thomas, from Co. Tipperary, as milliner in the shop and then married her (c.1872). They had six sons and six daughters. At first they lived above the shop before moving out to Ballycolman Avenue. In 1904 he established a lingerie factory above the shop known initially as Flanagan and Co.
As one of the leading employers in a predominantly catholic town, Gallagher served from 1875 as a town commissioner, from 1899 as an urban district councillor, and from 1890 to 1897 and 1900 to 1906 as chairman of Strabane council. A JP for Co. Tyrone from the mid 1880s, he was also appointed to be JP (1893) and coroner (by 1907) for east Donegal. He promoted the economic and social development of Strabane as an energetic member of myriad local committees, clubs and societies, including the Strabane board of guardians and the old age pension committee. Strabane's surrounds were predominately protestant, necessitating a degree of cooperation with the local protestant community within a context of broadly adversarial catholic–protestant political relations.
During 1899–1901 his leadership of the Strabane nationalist party was challenged by younger activists who objected to his social and political conservatism. In particular they criticised the practice of ceding three seats on the Strabane council to the unionists. This dispute was bitter and led him in 1899 to sue, successfully, a rival for slandering him in his election literature. This may relate to an earlier incident involving the Strabane town manager who had absconded with council funds, much to Gallagher's embarrassment. Benefiting from the support of the local nationalist newspaper, he withstood this challenge. In 1904 he oversaw the expensive and, as a result, controversial refurbishment of the town hall. After being narrowly re-elected as chairman of the Strabane council in 1905, he decided against contesting the position in 1906.
A leading light of the nationalist party in Co. Tyrone, he served as treasurer of the North Tyrone Nationalist Registration Association, and was elected to Tyrone county council in 1914. From 1885 he was either election agent or a leading supporter of various nationalist candidates in Westminster elections for the North Tyrone constituency. Following the widening of the franchise in 1884, the North Tyrone constituency was finely balanced between nationalists and unionists making it vital that both sides retained their respective supporters on the electoral register and got them to vote. Gallagher's organisational and financial support was crucial to the nationalists' achievement in winning the North Tyrone constituency from 1895 onwards in the face of formidable opposition from a local unionist party bankrolled by the Abercorn dynasty.
Active in the Irish Volunteers movement in 1913–14, Gallagher backed the decision of John Redmond (qv) to support the British war effort in the first world war, exerting himself to encourage recruitment into the army. His son Edward served in the war as a lieutenant in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and was wounded in action. Edward senior was rewarded with appointments as JP for Co. Donegal and as DL for both Donegal and Tyrone. However, he was marginalised by the radicalisation of nationalist sentiment after 1916. Prudently, he shared a platform with Sinn Féin leaders at a public anti-conscription meeting in Strabane in 1918 and did not stand for either town or county council in the 1920 local elections in which Sinn Féin won control of Strabane council.
A daily mass-goer and chairman of the local temperance movement, he ensured that the girls who worked in his shop and factory were strictly chaperoned when they attended concerts and dances. In 1900 he presented a set of the stations of the cross, costing over £200, to the newly built church of the Immaculate Conception in Strabane. He died 20 September 1924 in the Salthill Hotel in Monkstown, Co. Dublin, and was buried in New Cemetery in Strabane.
Edward's eldest surviving son, Andrew Gallagher (1874–1957), businessman and politician, was born 3 October 1874 in Strabane, Co. Tyrone. He ran his father's lingerie factory, in 1905 incorporating it as Flannigan and Co. Ltd, and in 1913 changing the company name to A. Gallagher Ltd. He directly managed the factory but not the shop, which he leased out: it was known as O'Doherty Ltd, after the family that ran it. The advent of partition in 1922 devastated Strabane's economy, cutting it off from its east Donegal hinterland. In 1927 Andrew built a new factory across the border from Strabane at Lifford, Co. Donegal, where he employed 150 workers (many of whom lived in Strabane). He employed the same number in Strabane, where he continued the old factory and the draper's shop. The company made lingerie from artificial and spun silk with the embroidery being added in Co. Donegal cottages.
Andrew emulated his father's political and social activism, becoming a JP by 1914 and being appointed as DL for Co. Tyrone in 1926. From 1929 he served on the Strabane urban district council for twenty-eight years, all but two of them as chairman; for the same period he sat, as a nationalist representative, on Tyrone county council. The return of the Gallagher dynasty to political prominence reflected the renewed pragmatism of northern nationalism following the IRA's failure to overthrow partition. In 1934, the nationalist party approached him unsuccessfully to run as a candidate for Westminster in the Tyrone–Fermanagh constituency. He was widely praised for his organisation of relief work when Strabane was badly flooded in 1929 and again in 1948, serving on both occasions as chairman of the relief committee. A generous supporter of charities, he was active in St Vincent De Paul.
He would often attend five or six meetings a day as a public representative, being a member (often as chairman or vice-chairman) of over fifty public bodies, including Tyrone county council, Tyrone health and welfare committees, Tyrone education committee, and the west Tyrone hospital committee of management. Chairman of the Co. Tyrone savings committee during the second world war, he was awarded an OBE in 1950 in recognition of his work for the savings movement. He had two sons, two daughters, a son-in-law and two daughters-in-law serving in the British forces during the war. His son Richard, who was in the Royal Air Force, was killed over Germany in 1942. Unsurprisingly, Andrew was a supporter and honorary member of the Strabane branch of the British Legion.
His local power was offset by the total exclusion of catholics from influence at Stormont. He lamented the northern administration's deliberate neglect of nationalist areas, which he saw as contributing to Strabane's economic decline. As a public figure he sought cooperation with local unionists in pursuit of economic and social progress, generally eschewing openly ethno-religious partisanship – though in 1942 he led a temporary boycott by catholic representatives of meetings of the Strabane and Castlederg education committee when its protestant majority passed a motion calling for the dismissal of a teacher who had proposed the teaching of the Irish language in schools.
A keen golfer, he was heavily involved in the establishment and subsequent development of Strabane Golf Club, becoming its honorary secretary from 1920. With his first wife, Mary (née Gallagher), he had a son before she died in childbirth in 1904. He married secondly May O'Hora, with whom he had eight children. He died 16 April 1957 in his residence at Hazelwood, Strabane. Within a year, his businesses were declared insolvent and liquidated. There is a portrait of him by Padraic Woods, RUA (1893–1961).
Andrew's younger brother Henry Thomas (Harry) Gallagher (1880–1975), businessman and lawyer, was born 13 April 1880 in Strabane, Co. Tyrone. Educated at Castleknock College in Dublin, on leaving school he worked in the family factory for almost a year, when his father pronounced him too stupid for business and sent him to Dublin to study law. In 1902, having passed his examinations, he was admitted as a solicitor by the Incorporated Law Society of Ireland and entered practice in Strabane.
His wife, Eileen (Helen Mary) Gallagher (née Cullen) (1887–1976), businesswoman, was born at Rosbercon, outside New Ross, Co. Wexford, on 9 September 1887, the youngest of sixteen children of John Baptist Cullen and his wife Mary Ellen (née Redmond). Eileen's father was brother of Fr James Cullen (qv), founder of the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association, and her mother was a cousin of John Redmond. The Cullens were a wealthy New Ross business family but Eileen's father developed an obsession with playing the organ and dissipated much of his inherited fortune. The family moved to a smaller residence at Kenilworth Square, Dublin, where Eileen's mother developed an income as a seamstress. The struggle to maintain the appearance of propriety left an impression on Eileen.
After their marriage in 1906, Henry and Eileen Gallagher lived at Dunwiley House in Stranorlar, Co. Donegal. Henry was closely involved in his father's efforts on behalf of the local nationalist party, serving in 1909 as secretary for the North Tyrone Nationalist Association. As a solicitor he was active in the revising sessions, seeking to have nationalist voters either retained or placed on the electoral register and unionist voters removed from the register; he was opposed by unionist lawyers attempting to do the opposite.
Following the outbreak of war in August 1914, he was a prominent recruiter for the British army in Co. Donegal. By 1915 the embarrassment of nationalist party leaders at their electorate's tepid response to the call to arms was reflected in the vehemence of Gallagher's oratory, which provoked hostile responses at public recruitment meetings. When one onlooker asked why he did not volunteer himself, he replied he would go when nine-tenths of the single men had done so; on another occasion he branded supporters of Sinn Féin as cowards. An appreciative government appointed him crown solicitor for Co. Donegal in November 1915. Like his father, he adopted a lower profile as popular support for Sinn Féin surged after 1916. Nonetheless, his role as crown solicitor obliged him to prosecute Sinn Féin members for public order offences during 1917–18. The authorities' recourse to military tribunals during the 1919–21 period spared him from undertaking further such prosecutions.
In 1918, when he purchased as his residence a three-storey former Church of Ireland rectory on a five-acre site at Urney, just outside Strabane, his restless wife Eileen, who was troubled by the high rate of local emigration, started a market garden in the grounds to generate employment. She began by gathering and binding snowdrops and ivy leaves for dispatch to Covent Garden in London. This developed into a fruit farm, the products being either sold fresh or preserved and bottled. Unable to secure enough sugar supplies due to rationing, Eileen in 1919 applied to the government for a sugar quota for jam-making. The application was denied, but she was offered instead a sugar quota for chocolate. Despite having no experience with making sweets, she accepted and found her experiments in the kitchen yielded appetising results. In 1920 the Gallaghers attended the Glasgow Confectionery Exhibition and after conferring with the owner of a sweet factory at Dundee, they purchased machinery for a small chocolate factory, deciding to produce assorted chocolates by using a chocolate coating known as couverture, imported from Holland. A Dutch expert was hired to instruct employees in this process. The business was incorporated as Urney Chocolates Ltd and by 1924 employed some forty workers.
Eileen took to the road as the company's first commercial traveller, and might well be regarded as Ireland's first female commercial traveller. Initially her male counterparts ostracised her but she won some of them over. Her charm was deployed most tellingly on shopkeepers the length and breadth of Ireland, forging relations that provided the business with a durable customer base. (In solidarity with small retailers, Urney Chocolates would later boycott the Woolworth's chain stores.) Travelling around the country proved hazardous during the Anglo–Irish war (1919–21) and especially during the civil war (1922–3). During the latter she carried two passes to provide for either Free State or republican roadblocks. Once, after the only bridge into Dingle was blown up, she was obliged to wade across a river and hitch a ride into the town on a cart of manure. On another occasion she saw a mound of corpses at Castleisland following an ambush.
Urney was the only chocolate manufacturer in Ireland, sourcing most of its supplies from within Ireland. In their advertising, the Gallaghers stressed the indigenous nature of the business, appealing to nationalist sentiment. Unsurprisingly they enjoyed their greatest success among Irish-Irelander shops and in the south. Conversely they made little headway in the north. At a time of sharp inter-religious tension, heightened by the catholic south's boycott of goods from protestant Belfast, Urney chocolates sent to Belfast were returned marked: 'We want no pope here.'
Following the partitioning of Ireland and the subsequent creation of the Irish Free State, an international frontier appeared at the bottom of the Gallaghers' garden. Located in a different political jurisdiction to the bulk of their customers, they had to overcome burdensome and time-consuming customs regulations, and transport disruptions caused by unrest along the new border. A further consequence of partition was the Irish Free State's dismissal of all the crown solicitors in January 1923. Henry successfully petitioned the Irish government for compensation for the loss of office and the British government for compensation as a distressed loyalist. Although he had maintained his practice, he now became increasingly preoccupied with the Urney factory and abandoned his legal pursuits to devote himself to business.
Fires gutted the Urney premises in March 1921 and again in February 1924. The second one, immediately preceding the Free State's introduction of duties on imported confectionery, was particularly timely as the ensuing insurance payout facilitated relocation across the border; happily a stockpile of products had been accumulated, mitigating the disruption to sales. The move south also refuted claims that Urney Chocolates was a British company. But in Dublin Henry found none of the banks to be willing to lend him money and so he decided to emigrate to Canada. Before doing so, he lobbied the head of government, William T. Cosgrave (qv), who, anxious to encourage native enterprise, arranged a loan from the National Land Bank (effectively a state bank) and the lease (later the sale) to Urney Chocolates of the superfluous Tallaght army camp (a former British aerodrome) in west Co. Dublin. The state also guaranteed an £11,000 trade loan undertaken by Urney Ltd and subsequently paid the loan, relaxing the conditions of the guarantee to accommodate Gallagher.
In summer 1924, the Gallaghers brought twenty workers with them from Urney to Tallaght, and the new factory opened that November. At first they could not afford a freezing plant, so the office worked by day while production occurred at night and Henry got little sleep attending to both. Eileen preoccupied herself with developing and administering the company's packaging facility, taking pride in the craftwork of what became known as the box room. She remained important to the company but henceforth Henry was Urney's main protagonist. Their relationship was close and based on mutual respect, but had competitive undertones: the quietly determined Eileen liked to carve out independent niches only to find Henry – brash, loquacious and determined to be perceived as being in command – charging into her territory. The Gallaghers lived at Urney House, beside the factory.
Henry courted good publicity through his progressive attitude to industry based on a cooperative approach to relations between employer and employee. Urney employees were paid relatively well, were provided with recreational facilities and were encouraged to take pride in their work, being provided with uniforms and enjoined to maintain hygienic production conditions; relations with the unions were wary, but generally cordial. Henry stressed that his employees worked in a benign and clean environment, enjoying the benefit of fresh country air, Tallaght then being a rural village. Over time he refashioned a grim barracks (where live bombs were regularly discovered) into a verdant garden factory, maintaining flowers, shrubs, orchards, beehives and vegetable beds beside the Urney works; Dubliners would drive out from the city to admire his gardens.
Citing the papal encyclical Rerum novarum (1891), Henry advocated a distinctively catholic approach to industry which rejected what he saw as the bleak materialism of Calvinist economics in favour of treating workers humanely and of promoting good craftsmanship because it glorified God. He criticised Irish catholic businessmen for failing to regard their faith as having any bearing on how they ran their enterprises, leading to the 'sweating' of labour in Dickensian factory conditions. Despite emphasising the catholic provenance of his economic principles, he was ecumenical in his sources of inspiration. Almost certainly, he was influenced by the ethos of the Cadbury family and their chocolate manufacturing business, which had pioneered the concept of rural factories and an ethical approach to business. It is probably not a coincidence that the Cadburys' business philosophy was informed by their quaker beliefs and that Gallagher's mother was of quaker stock.
This focus on social justice was in all likelihood genuine but it was also shrewd, given that Urney could not compete on strictly economic terms with British chocolate manufacturers, particularly in high-grade chocolates. These considerations guided Gallagher's lobbying of the Cumann na nGaedhael government for the protection of the indigenous chocolate industry. Having been rebuffed by the minister for industry and commerce, Patrick McGilligan (qv), a doctrinaire free trader, he ingratiated himself with the newly emergent and economically protectionist opposition party Fianna Fáil, becoming friendly with its leader, Éamon de Valera (qv). In December 1927 he was appointed a director of what would become in 1931 the Irish Press newspaper, which de Valera had worked assiduously to found. He was also a member of the Knights of Columbanus, a powerful society of lay catholics prominent in business, politics and in the civil service, who sought to advance catholic values and their own temporal interests. De Valera was suspicious of the Knights and it was probably at his behest that Gallagher, prone to fitful bursts of religious enthusiasm, suddenly resigned from the society.
On coming to power in 1932, Fianna Fáil erected protectionist barriers that eliminated chocolate imports and thereby safeguarded Urney's position, though the Cadbury and Rowntree firms continued to dominate the domestic market by establishing chocolate manufacturing subsidiaries within Ireland. He worked closely with the minister for industry and commerce, Seán Lemass (qv), who cited Urney as proving the efficacy of protectionism: the company's production nearly doubled and extra workers were hired, bringing the total payroll to 200 workers. McGilligan (hardly a disinterested observer) criticised Urney's products – often thinly disguised imitations of British originals – as inferior to that produced by their foreign rivals and regarded the company's performance as inadequate given the assistance it was receiving from the state.
Gallagher was one of Ireland's most prominent and active proponents of social credit, an economic prescription urging governments to stimulate economic development through monetary expansion. He argued presciently that coddling private capital was pointless as any wealth generated in Ireland for the most part ended up in the London money markets. The government had first to demonstrate that capital invested within the state could yield a good return; it could do so by increasing the money supply to finance new industries, enabling Irish labour to develop the technical skills needed for a sophisticated and sustainable manufacturing base. He also expressed sympathy for small farmers and advocated supporting them by breaking up big ranches, introducing compulsory tillage and banning the importation of foodstuffs.
These radical measures would have entailed Ireland's declaration of monetary independence from the Bank of England and the state's takeover of an indigenous banking sector, which refused to extend credit to Irish industry, as Gallagher had experienced at first hand in 1924. His arguments highlight the tensions between Ireland's emergent industrialists and the established wealth derived from banking, the professions, retail and agriculture, and rooted in Ireland's continued integration within British economic structures.
He was poorly supported by his business peers and political allies, who remained in thrall to a remarkably robust orthodoxy fixated on price stability. It is true that as a small underdeveloped post-colonial state, Ireland was vulnerable to a currency convertibility crisis, and also that the social credit movement had eccentric and far right dimensions – with the nefarious financiers being, within an Irish context, protestant instead of Jewish (though many Irish quakers also embraced this movement). But as Gallagher pointed out, the maintenance of the direct link with sterling perpetuated Ireland's economic dependence on the UK, making a mockery of protectionism. Moreover the 1930s crisis was not caused by inflation but by a deflationary contraction, which he believed could be resolved by a restoration of purchasing power through freer credit. However when it became apparent that de Valera was unpersuaded, Gallagher ended his agitation.
The dashing of his hopes for monetary reform and the grind associated with keeping his company afloat possibly tempered his idealism. By the 1950s the recreational facilities initially open to his employees had become the preserve of grandchildren. While capable of generosity and admired by some of his workers, others regarded him as a holy terror. And he could be a stickler, once suing two former employees for the value of caps and aprons they had neglected to return.
Urney Chocolates prospered during the Emergency (1940–45) as circumstances facilitated its export of chocolate crumb, couverture and fondant to British confectioners for further processing: the UK banned all imported chocolate and confectionery from outside the sterling area and Ireland unlike Britain had plentiful quantities of sugar and milk. Ever obliging, the Fianna Fáil government granted Urney a sugar quota based on its requirement during its busiest periods. Consequently, Gallagher had so much sugar that he was able to export this commodity illegally and lucratively to Britain. Ostensibly his business was subject to stringent profit and price controls, but he evaded these restrictions, presumably through fraudulent accounting methods. While the normal source of cocoa beans in west Africa was cut off by the war, his position as chairman-director, and sole Irish member, of the Chocolate Manufacturers Association – the world trade organisation that controlled cocoa and glucose – helped in acquiring supplies of the two products from Brazil and Canada respectively.
Within Ireland, demand for Urney chocolates grew dramatically due to the absence of competition, the sustenance needs of the expanded defence forces and shortages of fruit in urban areas. With Europe's industry geared around war there was a lack of chocolate-making machinery, but this difficulty was overcome through the use of second-hand equipment and inspired modification. After the war, Irish consumers began to abandon Urney products (which had become a dreary staple), switching to foreign chocolates. However the British market remained a bottomless pit because the restored purchasing power of the British consumer could not be satisfied by indigenous chocolate manufacturers hampered by the continuance of rationing.
Gallagher resigned as managing director of Urney in 1950, continuing as chairman for another eight years. Having become a very wealthy man, he lived in grand style at Urney House where he kept a staff of seven for his farm and seven for his gardens; he was a familiar sight to Urney employees as he strolled through the grounds accompanied by his Chihuahuas. He bred cattle, show ponies and hunters for his grandchildren, and (by the 1960s) racehorses, sending his yearlings to John Oxx (qv) for training. His most successful horse was Aithne, who won three races in 1962. Remaining vigorous into advanced age, Gallagher was still driving an automobile at age 92.
Eileen Gallagher was similarly active, growing pears and establishing a poultry farm at Tallaght. In 1950 she introduced the White Holland turkey into Ireland after acquiring some fertilised eggs while on a visit to the USA and smuggling them through customs. The first white turkeys in Ireland for two generations, they proved popular for Christmas dinners. At its peak in the mid 1950s, this business was producing over 3,000 birds a year.
The Gallaghers' retirement was soured in 1963 when their son Redmond (see below) sold the family's stake in Urney Chocolates, which eventually fell into foreign ownership. An embittered Henry was further discomfited when the expanding Urney factory began swallowing parts of his gardens in the mid 1960s. Remaining in Urney House beside the factory, he encouraged his personal staff to defy and insult the new chief executive, Thomas Headon, which led to petty displays of territorial dominance between their respective subordinates.
Henry died 15 March 1975 in Urney House, Tallaght, Co. Dublin, where Eileen died on 8 October 1976; they were buried in St Maelruan's churchyard, Tallaght. They had three children. The eldest, Edward, became a surgeon in England, while Helen (O'Clery) was a writer of children's books.
Henry and Eileen Gallagher's youngest child, Redmond Gallagher (1914–2006), was born in the family home at Stranorlar, Co. Donegal, on 27 February 1914. He boarded briefly at Ampleforth College in England before financial difficulties forced his father to recall him. Later, he attended Belvedere College in Dublin where he distinguished himself at rugby, captaining the school team to the Leinster schools junior cup in 1929.
After finishing school in 1932 he wanted to qualify as an engineer but at his father's insistence joined Urney Chocolates before being sent to Germany in 1934, where he learned the chocolate manufacturing business by working in factories in Dresden and Halle. He was introduced to Hitler at an industrial fair at Leipzig and was unimpressed, finding him almost comical. Back in Tallaght, he immersed himself in the engineering side of the Urney business, which complemented his interest in motor racing, a passion first kindled when aged 15 he had served as a steward at the Irish Grand Prix in the Phoenix Park.
From 1935 he participated regularly in Irish motor-racing events and was assisted by his brother-in-law, Dermot O'Clery, in fitting his cars. An early crash left him with a broken neck that was not diagnosed until many years later. In 1936 he fitted a Ford V-8 engine into the chassis of a Bugatti and dubbed the car the Urney Special Racer. The thrill-seeking associated with this glamorous hobby perhaps contributed to a tragic incident on 26 March 1936 when his motor car struck and killed a pedestrian on Merrion Road, Dublin. During the civil case taken against him in February 1938 on behalf of the dead man's widow and two young children, he admitted negligence but denied that the death was due to the injuries received in the accident; the jury found for the plaintiff and assessed damages of £1,275.
In 1938 he married Audrey Kewley of Presteigne, Radnonshire, Wales. He ceased motor racing from 1940 (presumably due to fuel shortages), though resuming it in the late 1940s despite his father's disapproval. In collaboration with Urney engineer Nicholas Flynn, he built a series of race cars, derivative of the Cooper model, called the Leprechaun (a nod to Urney's advertising campaigns). He competed against and mixed with renowned drivers, including Stirling Moss and Juan Manuel Fangio, and drove Leprechaun II in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in July 1951. The 1000cc Leprechaun III was the most successful, winning a series of speed events. His final car, bought in 1953, was a two-seater 1.5 litre Gordini, which enabled him to participate in race events and which won two events at the tourist trophy meeting at Dundrod and an event at the Wakefield trophy meeting in the Curragh. The motorist and pioneering Irish aviator Pearse Cahill (1917–2011) was his Gordini co-driver. Gallagher retired from racing around 1956.
In 1940, Henry allowed Redmond a greater say in the running of the Urney factory, by focusing increasingly on finance and accounts while leaving his son to deal with production and sales; Redmond became managing director in 1950. From 1940 Redmond had driven the development of Britain as an export market but in September 1953 he was confronted with a crisis when rationing ended in Britain leading to the collapse of the British market. Initially he resolved to sell Urney's idle chocolate crumb facilities to a foreign buyer but after negotiations with Lowney Chocolates of Canada it was agreed that Urney would produce the crumb and ship it to Canada for Lowney's use. This deal was later extended to include the outsourcing of the production of a range of Lowney products for final sale in Canada.
He enjoyed similar success in the USA where a risky commitment to a pair of colourful importers had by the late 1950s yielded a million dollar export market in North America, thereby acting as a crucial dollar earner for the Irish economy. Urney also began exporting to Malta, Cyprus, Mauritius, Africa, the Middle East and the Far East. The company retained its promotional flair, incorporating a leprechaun motif into its advertising in the early 1950s and commissioning a popular jingle, 'The ballad of the Urney leprechaun', which was translated to the screen to become the first Irish full-colour commercial.
Years of creative bookkeeping ended with the unexpected death of Urney's chief accountant and his more upright successor's decision to report the company to the tax authorities (c.1957–8). The Gallaghers contemplated leaving the country and running the company from abroad, but after lengthy negotiations, and possibly the intervention of sympathetic political interests, reached a private settlement with the Revenue Commissioners. This shock, combined with renewed trading and manufacturing difficulties, prompted an alteration in the company's ownership structure. In 1958 Redmond successfully invited Thomas Headon, a former Urney employee and a man of considerable financial resources and experience within the confectionary industry, to become equal partner with the Gallagher family and to serve with him as joint managing director; Redmond also succeeded his father as company chairman.
Thereafter, Headon's tough and energetic leadership drove Urney's reorganisation and modernisation of its production facilities, its ongoing expansion into foreign markets, its acquisition of firms in Ireland and in Britain, and its formation of a partnership with a South African chocolate group; the company's workforce peaked at nearly 1,200 in the mid 1960s (up from 350 in the late 1950s). Redmond concentrated on sales, conducting a number of trade missions. By the early 1960s, Urney Chocolates Ltd was being hailed by the government as the country's leading export firm and as a shining example of how Irish firms could thrive in foreign markets. The company's success was important to Seán Lemass (now taoiseach) as justifying both his past policy of protectionism and his current one of opening up the Irish economy.
But Redmond was more sceptical, noting that Urney's export growth was predicated on a protected home market and that the challenges free trade posed for Irish industry were underestimated; moreover it was largely exporting commodities, not branded products. Badly affected by his wife Audrey's death from meningitis, he had lost interest in his father's company and was increasingly occupied by agricultural pursuits. His restless nature was apparent from his constant changes of residence and the variety of his curricular and extra-curricular interests. Possessing an inquiring mind, he was knowledgeable in a wide range of topics, being a voracious reader, particularly of historical works. He combined style and sophistication with an abhorrence of pretension, though in contrast to his parents who bantered naturally with their Urney employees, he was somewhat aloof.
In 1963, Redmond combined with Headon against the wishes of his dismayed father to force the sale of the Gallagher stake in Urney Chocolates to an American food and shipping conglomerate, W. R. Grace. Redmond continued as chairman, spending two days a week at his desk in the factory. Following Headon's death in 1966, Redmond resigned as chairman and in time W. R. Grace became the absolute owners of the Urney Chocolates group. Headon's widow Elizabeth was stricken by her husband's death and Redmond intervened to settle her affairs. Both having lost spouses, they were pushed together by mutual friends and were soon married, as it transpired unhappily. Deprived of Headon's leadership, suffering from its foreign owners' lack of interest and overwhelmed by free-trade competition, Urney declined from the early 1970s. The factory closed in 1981.
Having abandoned industry, Redmond reverted to the traditional means of accumulating, or at least preserving, wealth in Ireland: the ownership of lightly taxed property and the commercial sale of agricultural products. From the early 1940s, he bred cattle on his farm in Templeogue, Co. Dublin, serving as president of the executive committee of the Irish Dairy Shorthorn Breeders Society in 1947/8. In the late 1950s he purchased Artramon House, Castlebridge, Co. Wexford, where he resided and bred Hereford cattle on the 600-acre estate. He was a successful breeder, though an ambitious attempt to introduce the French Limousin beef breed into Ireland in the early 1970s came unstuck.
A progressive agriculturalist, he acquired by the early 1960s the 2,300-acre South Sloblands marsh in Co. Wexford and, after installing miles of drainage and an elaborate electric pumping system, transformed it into a productive grass, corn, cattle and pig farm while preserving the wild fowl that wintered there. With the farm lying eight feet below sea level some one million gallons of water would be pumped off the land every hour. The grass-drying and cubing plants he built on the sloblands were among the largest in the country and turned out thousands of tons of pellets for feedstuffs. Initially using them to feed his own cattle, he soon began selling his surplus feedstuffs commercially to other farmers; this became a major business until the rise in oil prices in the late 1970s forced a switch to cereal production. He also built a farmhouse on the site where he lived for two years before relinquishing it and the daily management of the farm to his son David in 1965.
In 1970 he purchased for £419,000, and assumed residence in, Ireland's finest stud farm, the 335-acre Ballygoran stud in Co. Kildare. A major figure in Irish stud farming in the 1970s, he spent heavily on developing Ballygoran (where he bred cattle) and on acquiring choice bloodstock, also purchasing the Athgarvan stud at the Curragh, Co. Kildare. He also owned horses for racing, most notably Fiery Diplomat who in 1972 won the Prix Du Clavaclos at Deauville, the Princess Margaret Stakes at Ascot and the Phoenix Park Stakes, thereby becoming the second juvenile to win in France, England and Ireland. Though he registered some successes, particularly with the English stallion Rarity, and enjoyed being a bloodstock breeder, this venture was unrewarding financially.
He did better out of the steep appreciation in land values arising from Dublin's sprawl westwards and then from an EEC subsidy- and bank credit-fuelled boom in agriculture. In 1965 he partnered Collen Brothers, building contractors of East Wall, Dublin, in developing an industrial estate at Green Hills, presumably originally his property, in Tallaght. The investment seems to have been profitable as the completed estate attracted a number of large manufacturing concerns. He sold seventy-seven acres of agricultural land at Celbridge, Co. Kildare, for £124,000 in 1977, and also the 88-acre Athgarvan stud in 1978 for £490,000, having bought it three years earlier for £125,000. He became a director of Arklow Pottery Ltd (1959), and chairman of the Pigs and Bacon Commission (1968–71); was elected to the executive committee of the Irish Broodmare Owners Association (1975), and appointed by the government to the board of Irish Shipping (1975); was a member of Lloyds of London in the 1980s; and was a director of Coras Trachtála.
In 1977 he effectively eloped with Máirín McGrath, a woman thirty-seven years his junior whom he had hired as his wife's chaperone. Deciding that they could not remain in Ireland due to the censorious attitude prevailing towards such affairs, they lived for a time in France and then Andorra before settling for tax reasons in Spain, residing from 1980 in a spacious villa in the small town of Sagra. The relationship was a happy one and they married following his second wife's death in 1982. At Sagra he had a farm where he grew oranges. In 2002, the Gallaghers helped arrange the twinning of Sagra with Kilbrittin, Co. Cork. The same year, Redmond was made an honorary son of the town on his 90th birthday in recognition of his contribution to the local community. He died in his residence in Sagra on 31 October 2006 and was buried in the town on 3 November, being survived by a son and daughter from his first marriage and by a stepson and stepdaughter from his second.
The history of the Gallagher dynasty highlights the manner in which political and social capital was for long as important as financial capital for Irish businesses. Their extra-commercial activism expressed a consistent commitment to the advancement of their main source of custom, the catholic/nationalist community, whilst also running parallel with a flexible approach to party political affiliations, encompassing tactical (though in the case of promoting army recruitment during the first world war, ill-judged) accommodations with British interests.
Ireland's post-independence failure to develop as a distinct economic entity defeated the ambitious hopes for industrial development nurtured by Henry. While the qualified nature of Irish protectionism constrained, and over time enfeebled, indigenous manufacturing, the owners of these companies were reconciled to their dependent status because they benefited from market security and state indulgence of profiteering. Thanks to the Gallaghers' resourcefulness and vision, Urney Chocolates overcame the limitations of this system better than most, but could not transcend it. Personal reasons aside, Redmond's abandonment of his father's legacy reflected his appreciation that economic nationalism had failed, and that accordingly Irish capitalists' best prospects lay in relinquishing an increasingly obsolete quasi-entrepreneurial role and instead facilitating an influx of impersonal international capital less constrained by socio-political obligations, which by stimulating economic growth allowed them to reap speculative gains from their considerable, but previously somewhat illiquid, manufacturing and property assets.