Obituaries: Alan Morton and Andy Barr

An English friend of Ireland

by Anthony Coughlan

PROFESSOR ALAN G Morton, who died recently in Edinburgh at the age of 95, was a champion of the unity and independence of Ireland and a supporter of the Connolly Association.

He was a lifelong friend of the late C Desmond Greaves, editor of the Irish Democrat, helped introduce Greaves to left-wing politics at Liverpool University, where they both studied botany, and was one of the group of brilliant communist Cambridge students whose experiences of the rise of fascism in the 1930s made them into supporters of progressive causes for the rest of their lives.

Following Cambridge and a period at Bedford College London, Alan Morton specialised in mycology, the study of mushrooms. He worked with Lever Brothers, Port Sunlight, and at the Ministry of Food during the second world war on the dehydration of vegetables.

He was appointed a lecturer at Chelsea College, University of London, and in time became professor of botany.

When he retired to Edinburgh he completed his major work, A History of Botanical Science (Academic Press, London, 1981)

His classical learning, the sensitivity to economic and social causation that came from his politics, and his profound scholarship, have made his study of the development of scientific thought about plants into a standard source of reference for students of botany.

Desmond Greaves used refer to his old friend as “a grand old English gentleman”. Gentle and courteous, professor Morton was a person of steely principle, a hater of humbug in science or politics and one of an extraordinary generation of outstanding politically committed scientists whose like will not be seen again in England for many a long day.

He was predeceased by his wife Freda and is survived by two sons, David and John, and his daughter Alison.

A good man Barr none

by Democrat reporter

Andy Barr, 1913 - 2003

THE IRISH Democrat was sad to hear of the recent death of the prominent Irish trade unionist, communist and civil rights campaigner Andy Barr.

For many years Barr, who joined the Communist Party of Ireland in the 1930s, was a leading shop steward in the Harland and Woolf shipyard, a notorious loyalist stronghold.

Despite his communism, support for 32-county trade union organisation and the Northern Ireland civil rights movement he won the respect of those workers whose rights and jobs he tirelessly worked for in the shipyard.

One of Barr’s most courageous and memorable acts was to lead a 200-strong march of shipworkers into the Belfast shipyard, through thousands of regalia-clad loyalists, during the 1974 Ulster Council Workers’ strike.

In the 1970s he became president of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, eventually retiring in 1977.

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This document was last modified by David Granville on 2003-05-23 18:03:23.
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