A fond farewell to Cartan Finegan

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A fond farewell to Cartan Finegan

27 September 2021

A fond farewell to Cartan Finegan

Joe Walsh FCILT, Past Irish and International President, Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, has written this tribute to Cartan with additional input from Ray Kelly, FCILT Honorary Secretary Irish Council 1983-1993, who worked closely with Cartan during his time in marketing in CIE.

I had the pleasure to have known Cartan for many years and would have had some contact with him on several projects back in the early '80s, especially when our paths crossed in CIE. He was the Assistant General Manager for Marketing and a member of the CIE Executive Board, and I, a junior manager in the organisation. 

Also, Cartan was the Irish President of the then Chartered Institute of Transport (later to merge with the Institute of Logistics to become the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport) a position I went on to hold from 1999 to 2001. Through Cartan's interest in our Institute and his attendance at our functions and lectures over the years, we kept in touch. Cartan was also a regular attendee, until his illness, at a Christmas get together we had each year for retired colleagues who had worked together in CIE and its subsidiary companies.  

Cartan's first book, "3 Score and 10, A Great Leap", which I highly recommend to anyone who has not read it, is an honest, forthright, witty account of the first 70 years of his fascinating, hectic, and whole lived life. He signed my copy on 1st September 2011 "For Joe, who was a great President of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport", he was known to exaggerate at times.

In his book Cartan says of his time as President of our Institute: "During this period, I became President of the Chartered Institute of Transport in Ireland and Council member of the British Institute. This allowed me to speak publicly and formally about the marketing of Transport. My lectures were also of use later when I became an external lecturer at the Ecole Superiore du Commerce in Montpellier, France. I never refused an invitation to lecture as it is gratifying to meet students in later years and to learn of the influence you had on them. I was lucky as I was invariable to speak from practical experience and could use case studies on Kerrygold, the Dart, advertising, and tourism that I had personally written. This was at a time when there was a dearth of Irish business case studies." 

This one paragraph on page 195 in his book of 428 pages, which refers to his interests in marketing, advertising, tourism, Education, lectures, public speaking, and the influence he had on his students and continuing interest in their development and progress, sums up the Cartan I knew. 
  
During his term as President of the Irish Council, Cartan introduced many innovations, including the rebranding of the CITI. For the first time, the Chartered Institute in Ireland now had a modern image with redesigned stylish stationery and promotional material, including an updated logo - a re-imagining of the traditional Pegasus' Flying Horse' inherited from the time when it was a subsidiary 'section' of the UK CIT. 
  
Cartan was the consummate Marketing and PR professional. When he came to CIE in 1973, he had already built up a reputation in Bord Bainne were as Chief Marketing officer together with the then Chief Executive Tony O Reilly, he was responsible for the global marketing of Irish butter under the Kerrygold brand, which was a tremendous success and remained so to this day, some 50 years later. He brought this expertise to the marketing of transport products in CIE and introduced branded names for many of our services like Supertrain (mainline rail services); Expressway (local bus services); Superbus (direct cross channel services from the West and Southwest of Ireland to Birmingham and London at very competitive fares); Fastrack (parcels service); Navigator (freight forwarding service) and of course the DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) in 1984. Cartan also led the teams responsible for naming and branding of the three operating companies (Iarnrod Eireann- Irish Rail; Bus Eireann-Irish Bus and Bus Atha Cliath – Dublin Bus), which came into being with the restructuring of CIE in 1987. However, in the minds of many, it was his management of the DART launch, including name and brand research, pre-launch communication and familiarisation, publicity launch and product promotion, that was and still is a classic in terms of a comprehensive marketing project and stands as a monument to his innovative thinking and determination to see things through. 

During his 16 years in CIE, he was responsible for the Great Southern Hotel Group (in the ownership of CIE until 1990), CIE Tours, and CIE Outdoor Advertising. A diverse portfolio to manage at a difficult time on our troubled Island, but Cartan did so with his usual aplomb. On retiring from CIE, he went on to, among other things, Chair the National Safety Council, Chair the Advisory Council of the Municipal Gallery of Modern Arts and was one of the founders of Heritage Ireland.

Cartan had a great interest in Education, which probably attracted him to accept the Presidency of our Institute. He firmly believed that education was essential to the development of staff; he was a great tutor and mentor to many and, in my view, took great satisfaction in imparting his knowledge to those willing to listen and took great delight in seeing people better themselves. Cartan was a superb public speaker whom I heard on many occasions, but one night stands out when I witnessed a talk, he gave in a packed function room in the Gresham Hotel on the benefits of public Transport. He spoke for approximately one hour to an enraptured audience without once referring to a note. 

Carton was great company and regaled us for hours on his many adventures in his hectic life, including his involvement with the Labour party, the Presidential campaign with Mary Robinson, and his famous sailing trip across the Atlantic Ocean. His second book, "75 NOT OUT - some glimpses into the past", describes his travails as an International Observer of elections in South Africa (which Nelson Mandela won), Tanzania, Zambia and a hair-raising experience in Bosnia-Herzegovina. 

Cartan will be sadly missed, and we send our sincere condolences to his children Rosemary, Conor, Patricia and Rory, his wife June, and his brother Noel.  

Cartan, marketeer par excellence; p. r. guru; bon viveur, raconteur and May you Rest In Peace. 
 

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