Roe, William F.

William F. Roe (1904-1982)

William F. Roe, electrical engineer, was born in 1904 at 25, Patrick St., Kilkenny, the only son of William and Mary Roe (neé Duggan). Educated at home until aged nine, Roe then attended the Christian Brothers School in Kilkenny, before proceeding to University College Dublin and the Royal College of Science of Ireland. He graduated from UCD in 1924, (BE Civil) and from UCD and the College of Science in 1925 (BE Mech & Elec, and ARCScI), on each occasion gaining first place and first class honours, despite the handicap of such poor sight that he could never see the blackboard.

Following graduation in 1925, Roe entered the electricity department of Dublin Corporation and, in the following year, joined the Shannon Power Development Board. He transferred to the newly formed Electricity Supply Board (ESB) in 1928.

Roe's early career in the ESB saw him serve as District Engineer in Portlaoise, Waterford and Cork City. When the Rural Electrification Scheme was initiated in 1945, the experienced Roe became its first Engineer-in-Charge. In 1950, he was appointed Assistant Chief Engineer of ESB and in 1965 Deputy Chief Engineer, all the time keeping his finger on the pulse of the Rural Scheme. He was also Chairman of the Industrial Engineering Co. (Dundalk), and of its four subsidiaries. Roe was undoubtedly the best-known ESB Engineer in Ireland.

One of the foundation members of Cumann na n-Innealtóiri, he served for a number of years on its Council, also on the Council of the Institution of Civil Engineers of Ireland - and indeed, the early Irish Management Institute. He was first Chairman of the Irish Branch, Institute of Electrical Engineers. He served for a long number of years on the National Executive of Muintir na Tíre.

His leadership (spurred by a commitment to social justice) and his inspired management skills ensured the success of the rural electrification scheme that made such a dramatic impact on rural life in Ireland.

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