Leo O’Donnell (b. 1937)
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Leo O’Donnell (b. 1937)


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Track 1: Leo O’Donnell describes his working life prior to joining Jacobs in 1971, and he recalls the acquisition of the Boland Factory in Deansgrange. Track 2: Leo provides an outline of the history of Jacobs, which mirrored developments in Ireland in the 19th and early 20th centuries, when Dublin was a cost-effective city, and Jacobs a world influence economically. It was decided to set up a plant in Liverpool in 1912. Track 3: A description of the factory in Bishop Street, Dublin, is provided, This was one of several prominent Dublin buildings occupied by rebels during the Easter Rising of 1916. Leo reflects on the division of Jacobs’s management between the UK and Ireland in 1922, and De Valera’s policy in 1932 to increase tariffs on imports, which impacted negatively on the Irish branch of the business. The difficult early 1930s during the Depression worldwide are recalled. Track 4: Leo describes the difficult years for Jacobs during World War II, and the government initiative to prioritise indigenous raw materials, making the biscuit industry difficult to operate. The effect of mass emigration and the poor economy resulted in difficult times for luxury commodities such as biscuits, he explains. Track 5: The economic recovery at the end of the 1950s is recalled, and his predecessor, Gordon Lambert, who was brought in by the company to regenerate the business is remembered. The advent of Telefís Éireann in 1961 and the Jacobs Awards, a highly successful marketing strategy is recalled. Advertising of biscuit varieties and ingredients made Jacobs biscuits household words in Ireland at the time, Leo explains. Track 6: A discussion follows on the introduction of airtight packaging, a revolutionary concept in marketing, and Leo describes other factors which influenced the increased volume of production, such as the Anglo-Irish Free Trade Agreement in 1965. Track 7: Leo recalls joining Jacobs in 1971 as Personnel Director, with responsibilities which included communication with 19 different trades unions. He reflects on the decision by Jacobs directors to develop a new factory in Tallaght, and the problems which arose during the early stages.

Additional information



Audio series:

W. and R. Jacob Oral History Collection


128 kbps

Download time limit:

48 hours

File size(s):

9.08 MB, 10.12 MB, 6.23 MB, 9.29 MB, 13.25 MB

Number of files:


Product ID:



Chief Executive, W. and R. Jacob (part 1)

Recorded by:

Maurice O’Keeffe – Irish Life and Lore