Anderson, Robert Andrew (1860–1942), agriculturist, was born in June 1860 at Mount Corbet, Buttevant, Co. Cork, where his parents, Andrew Anderson, a Scot, and his Canadian wife, settled in 1851. He began work as a petty sessions clerk at Doneraile and became sub-agent to the local landowner, Lord Castletown. In 1889 he met Horace Plunkett (qv) and immediately joined him in promoting agricultural cooperatives in Munster. Two years later he became secretary of the Irish section of the Co-operative Union and in 1894 secretary of the newly formed Irish Agricultural Organisation Society (IAOS). Soon he was, next to Plunkett, the leading figure in the movement for farmers’ cooperatives in Ireland. He wrote several instructional pamphlets on cooperative dairying and gave evidence to a number of commissions, notably the parliamentary select committee on the butter trade (1906), the royal commission on Ireland (1906), the departmental inquiry into the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction (Ireland) Act of 1900 (1907), the departmental committee on agricultural credit (1914), and the Dáil Éireann commission of inquiry into the resources and industries of Ireland (1920). In 1922 Anderson, a relentless organiser, became managing director of the Irish Agricultural Wholesale Society, which he rescued from insolvency. Finally, in 1933, he succeeded Plunkett as president of the IAOS, a position he retained until his death on 25 December 1942. His memoirs, With Horace Plunkett in Ireland (1935), are disappointing.
Robert Andrew Anderson married and had at least three sons: Alan and Philip, who were killed in the first world war, and Neville who survived him. He himself, as a member of a home guard unit, sustained a flesh wound in Mount Street, Dublin, during Easter week 1916. In his last years he lived at Plunkett House, 84 Merrion Square, Dublin, where there hangs a portrait of him by Dermod O'Brien (qv).