Tintawn and Binder Twine

The Story of Eric Rigby-Jones and Irish Ropes

John Rigby-Jones

In 1933 an Englishman leased a derelict British cavalry barracks in Co. Kildare from the Irish government to build a rope factory. When war came in 1939 Ireland remained neutral and faced both German invasion and a British trade embargo. Desperate measures were needed to ensure that Irish farmers never ran out of twine to gather the harvest.
Date Published :
September 2020
Publisher :
Fonthill Media
Illustration :
112 black and white
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781781557914
Pages : 360
Dimensions : 9.21 X 6.14 inches
Stock Status : In stock


When the future of his family’s rope business in Liverpool was threatened at the end of the 1920s, Eric Rigby-Jones had to leave his wife and young family behind to risk everything on establishing a new factory in the Irish Free State. He was still an officer in the Territorial Army when he leased a former British cavalry barracks in co. Kildare from the Irish government in 1933. It had lain derelict since the departure of British troops in 1922. Within four years his company, Irish Ropes, was supplying nearly all of Ireland’s rope. When war came in 1939 Ireland remained staunchly neutral and faced both German invasion and a British trade embargo. With the government determined to make the country self-sufficient Eric had to resort to increasingly desperate measures to ensure that Irish farmers never ran out of twine to gather the harvest.
Tintawn and Binder Twine is the untold story of the foundation and eventual demise of an iconic Irish business, known around the world for its Red Setter twine and Tintawn sisal carpets; of the pioneering Englishman who founded it and introduced new concepts in industrial relations to Ireland; of a family separated in peace and war; and of the regeneration of an Irish town. It is also the story of sisal, the vegetable fiber that became the mainstay of East Africa’s colonial economy, and of the first fifty years of an independent Irish state. A member of Eric’s wider family, Thomas Jones, was secretary to the British delegation that negotiated the Anglo-Irish treaty in 1921 and his son, Michael, was killed in the Staines air disaster in 1972 while traveling to Brussels with an Irish delegation for talks about the country’s imminent membership of the European Union.

Well-illustrated and drawing heavily on unpublished family letters, documents, and photographs as well as new research in British and Irish archives, the book reveals intriguing but little-known sides to Anglo-Irish relations during the Second World War. It has particular relevance in today’s world of Brexit, borders, tariffs, and the bullying of small nations by large.

About The Author

John Rigby-Jones was educated at Sherborne School and rowed and read classics at Oriel College, Oxford. After qualifying as a chartered accountant in 1980 he worked in the private healthcare sector for over 30 years before retiring in 2015. It was only when his father died in 2006 that he rediscovered his grandfather’s letters and diaries from the First World War which he had first read as a student and which he assumed had subsequently been lost. He had always been intrigued by them and, since his father’s death, has spent much of his spare time trying to find out more about his grandfather, who died before he was born, and visiting the battlefields where he fought. John is now working on a second book about his grandfather’s life after the war.


Acknowledgements; 1 Ormskirk, 1919–1930; 2 Ireland, 1919–1933; 3 The Founding of Irish Ropes, 1930–1934; 4 Sisal; 5 Newbridge, 1935–1939; 6 Knuckling Down, 1939; 7 Preparing to Fight, 1940; 8 Feeling the Pinch, 1941; 9 Facing Disaster, 1942; 10 A Family at War, 1942–1943; 11 Pulling Through, 1943–1945; 12 A Family at War, 1944–1945; 13 A Problem of Succession; 14 The Lifting of the Clouds, 1945–1948; 15 A Triumph of Brain and Effort, 1949–1952; 16 Michael, 1952–1972; 17 The End of the Ropes; Appendix: The Twelve Irish Business Leaders who died in the Staines Air Crash, 18 June 1972; Endnotes; Bibliography.

More from this publisher