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This biography charts the life of Paddy Moriarty, the Kerry-born Chief Executive of ESB, a man who revolutionised corporate life during his leadership of the largest semi-state company in Ireland during the 1980s and 1990s.
Born in Dingle in 1926, he became one of Ireland’s leading business people of the twentieth century, transforming ESB into a world-class electricity provider and a highly efficient, commercially driven company. Having built the power infrastructure of the new State, ESB played a critical role in the revitalisation of the Irish economy and, on Moriarty’s watch, helped to lay the foundations of the Celtic Tiger economy.
His vision was to make ESB ‘the best electricity utility in the whole world’, creating the highest standards of infrastructure at home while developing an international business in the economies of North and Central America, Africa, the Middle East and the Far East.
Moriarty joined ESB as a clerical officer in June 1945 at the age of nineteen and quickly gained a reputation as a young man with a determined view on how business should be run. He rose rapidly through the company ranks. He was head of Research and Audit in 1961, Assistant Chief Financial Officer in 1967 and Director Personnel in 1970, before becoming Chief Executive in 1981 and Chairman ESB in 1991.
The man they called Paddy Mo conducted comprehensive and difficult industrial relations negotiations with the trade unions, ensuring harmony in the workplace during the 1980s – a decade of fast-moving change, massive technological reform and associated redundancies. His interpersonal skills, as well as his business instincts, became legendary.
With Taoiseach Charles Haughey he helped pioneer the North-South Erne Waterways project in a bid to revitalize border communities. He was also a significant patron of the arts, encouraging sponsorship of painters, sculptors and musicians. His wide-ranging interests included sports and horse racing, with one of the Leopardstown classics being named in his honour. A sense of family, which included his younger brother Micheal O Muircheartaigh the renowned GAA broadcaster and commentator, was central to his world view.