The late Ronnie Plant

Your health is your wealth is a mantra one hears practically every day of the week. For naturopath Ronnie Plant it became a mantra to which he devoted his life.

Whilst in his eighties, Ronnie published a pair of books on natural health which are absolutely essential reading. The genial, friendly Naturopath travelled the country advising people about the natural route to a more healthy existence.

His first book “Health to Wealth: A to Z Encyclopedia of Over the Counter Natural Remedies” is the nearest thing I’ve ever had to a bible, containing practical advice and information on how to be healthy, and fight illnesses without recourse to  popping pills. It was also critical of the food industry, a theme he picked up in his second book, the recently published “Selling Sickness”. It contains over 130 headings including cancer, cholesterol, balanced diet, asthma and its treatment, cosmetics, how to eat well on a limited budget.

I had the great pleasure of interviewing and meeting Ronnie on many occasions, and found him to be inspirational, exhilarating company. A man with a true zest for life, a modern-day preacher who walked among us. This week, I had the sad task of putting his life on paper, because at the age of 85, Ronnie sadly passed away.

The late Ronnie Plant

The late Ronnie Plant

Much regretted death of Ronnie Plant

Mullingar and Westmeath people learned with regret of the death at his home in Wexford  recently of  John Ronald (Ronnie) Plant, a man who lived in Westmeath for a period  and who had many friends across the county.  He was a  remarkable man, who  as an octogenarian, promoted his two popular books on healthy living during the past six years and went all over Ireland  lecturing on this topic, and following the maxim, “You are what you eat, drink, sleep and exercise.”

Mr. Plant is survived by his wife Freda; son John, daughters, Anne, Fiona and Joan, his daughter in law, sons in law and grandchildren, to whom we tender sympathy. He was predeceased by his first wife Una and daughter Geraldine.

Ronnie Plant was born in Ballinlug, Killane, Co Wexford, and was the son of George Plant, a farmer, and Elizabeth. Though he left school at 14 years of age, he was an avid reader from  a very early age. His first job was as a tailor’s  apprentice in Tinahely, for 2/6d (the equivalent of   around 15 cent) a week, but recalled that he was glad of a job at the time. He became interested in athletics in his teens and often cycled 40 or more miles to compete, and was a noted athlete in Wicklow in the 1940s and 50s. He gvgave up on tailoring and took up work with a civil engineering firm.,

He won  many county athletic titles and a national sprint title in 1951, and  also won titles as a member of the local defence forces.  During his years in Mullingar he was manager of Plant’s sawmills in Harbour St., and during this period, he took on the training of the Castlepollard senior hurlers in 1961, and helped them to their first Westmeath championship in twenty four years, in the era when  Castlepollard stars like Paddy McCabe, Tommy Ring and “Moss” Finglas were in their heyday.   Ronnie’s first wife  Una, was a member of the Kelly family from Tyrrellspass,

He also worked for some years in engineering and construction work and lived in North Clare, working with a bitumen company in Galway.

In Britain, he worked mainly on underground tunnel work and during his years there, he worked for six years on the Channel Tunnel.

It was in his late thirties he became interested in healthier living, because of  a problem with ulcers, which he blamed on unhealthy foods, smoking and drinking, and he improved his own health through a better diet and lifestyle. From the early 1960s, he kept diaries and what he was learning on health issues, and worked with his daughter in the health food area, and helped others who came for information and help.

After  his “retiral” from work, Ronnie devoted more time to his beliefs that better nutrition and living were essential for improved health.

The redoubtable  Ronnie translated his ideas into words when he went on to become the author of the book “ Health is Wealth” compiled over six years, coming out close to his eightieth birthday, and he then produced a second book “Selling Sickness” a few years later . Both became best sellers, and Ronnie travelled countrywide to speak on his favourite topics, sell his books and propagate his beliefs.

He once explained “My brother-in-law was a doctor, and told me in my late thirties,  I had type 2 diabetes, because of my lifestyle.  I gave up smoking, changed to a natural food diet, and was always into physical fitness, and kept that up.  For years he kept notes about health matters, which led to his publications.

He did not believe in “quick fixes” for ailments, through pharmaceutical drugs  or doctor’s prescriptions, and his mantra was ‘food, drink, sleep, exercise and spirit’. He was annoyed about all the additives and ‘poisons’ in modern foods. He decried the fact that Irish farmers and food producers had become disconnected, so that farmers bought cabbages and potatoes in supermarkets, and he blamed hand-outs from Brussels, cash transfers and subsidies for causing this, and for pushing out artisan producers.  Big multiple retailers wanted big producers only, so industrial and factory farming took over, said Ronnie.

He said: “I believe it was indecent of us as a society to treat animals as we have for the past half century, with antibiotics and artificial fertilisers the norm, herbicides, pesticides, and all the  other chemicals for colour, taste, shelf-life etc., that gave us toxic food. So we saw obesity, diabetes, cancers, heart diseases, and other unhealthy outcomes grow and grow.”

Ronnie Plant’s advice was that eating good food is essential, organic and local, if possible, and alkaline rather than acidic foods. He recommended raw or lightly cooked vegetables daily and fresh seasonal fruit also, avoiding deep fried and breaded foods. Supplements like vitamins were important, because modern foods were sadly depleted. Good water, up to a litre a day, was also crucial, avoiding water contaminated with fluoride, oestrogens, nitrates, and so on.  He also believed in daily open air exercise, and in “spiritual living”. Whatever religion a person believed in, they should practice, and consciously do the right thing, helping others.

His two books  “Health is Wealth” and “Selling Sickness” are readily available, and worth reading.

IRISH HEALTH COSTS

His views on Irish health costs would make Health Minister Reilly rather uncomfortable. Ronnie pointedout that Irish health costs are more than three times higher than those in Britain, and he blames the administration system in Ireland. “The money-siphoning organisation that is the HSE can be downsized, made viable and more easily controlled, and this would ensure billions of savings for Irish taxpayers and the government ,” he said.

In Selling Sickness, he attacks the Irish health systems spend of just .07% on preventing illness and educating the public, whereas the WHO directed that 10 per cent of all health service money should go on these aspects.

In keeping with his life’s approach, it was the late Mr. Plant’s wish that his body be donated to medical science. May his kind soul rest in peace.”

Dick Hogan, Westmeath Topic

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There is a great Wexford County Council interview with Ronnie here. 

A Bray People interview with him upon the publication of his second book “Selling Sickness” in November 2012 is here.

Ronnie’s two books are widely available nationwide, particularly in health food and similar stores, such as Nuts & Grains Mullingar, and also from Amazon.

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