Pat O'Connell

I listened with interest this morning to a podcast of an interview by Peter Day of the BBC Radio 4 which was broadcast on 26th of January. Thanks Josephine for the link.

I thought it was a splendid overview on how the crisis affected Cork in particular and in some short snappy interviews with some well known Cork business people he quickly got a flavour of the general Irish crisis and how Cork had suffered like the rest of the country.

In particular I think the interview with Claire Nash who runs a very popular restaurant in Cork City summed it all up when she talked about the difficulty of arranging finance when she started the business some years earlier.

She talked about the contrast in banking standards back then in comparison to what they became just before the crash. Her banker was in the queue at her restaurant and said he heard she was looking for money for bigger premises, which she agreed she was thinking about.

Incredibly by the time he had got to the end of the queue, 3 minutes later he had sanctioned a loan for her of over a million euro. It really is looking back, an incredible story but it was not a unique situation. Similar crazy banking stories were happening all over the country.

We then heard a few lovely positive interviews with Bobby Savage who heads up EMC in Cork one of Corks biggest employers and also with property developers Owen O Callaghan and Michael O Flynn.

Owen is one of two builders tendering for Cork’s new conference centre which is due to be completed by the end of 2015 which will give the City a serious boost.

Michael O Flynn who built Cork’s and Ireland’s tallest building the Elysian Tower was also very upbeat and he agreed that The Tower had been completed at the worst time possible. He finished it just as property values and the Irish economy collapsed. He confirmed that as of now 40% of the apartment units are occupied. He told Peter Day that he would be inviting him back when the building was 100% full and that it would not be long!

Having watched and admired Michael O Flynn at work in Cork for over 30 years I would say that Peter will be buying his return ticket soon and I think that when the tower is finally fully occupied then our recession here in Cork anyway will then be officially over. As soon as Cork is on the road to recovery the rest of the country will surely follow shortly afterwards!

And what were the good things that happened in the last 5 years when economically nearly everything that could go wrong went wrong. As highlighted by Claire Nash’s story crazy things were happening. The entire country was being seduced by reckless bankers into the biggest property boom we had even seen, The Irish economy was being funded by stamp duty on the properties we were selling to one another fuelled by interest only loans. A good proportion of these loans should never have been granted and will certainly never be repaid.

For me personally and for Mary the best thing that happened has been the arrival of our wonderful grandchildren. 5 years ago we didn’t have any and now we have 4 little beauties, Nell, Cathal and Claire and just a few weeks ago Aoife. That has made the last 5 years very special for us and our family. And so life goes on.

Lets hope that when our grandchildren come to the age of looking for work that Ireland’s economy will be better and stronger than it ever was and I have no doubt that this will be the case. Hopefully too they will learn from the mistakes that our generations made.  Time will tell!

The other wonderful event that happened that I never thought I would live to see was the visit of The Queen of England to Ireland and how proud I was when she visited Cork and our own English Market where she had such fun with one of Corks characters fish monger Pat O Connell . She then had the confidence to do a walkabout on the Grand Parade and to shake hands with the people and especially the children who were cheering her visit.

That was a great day and it definitely was a most significant positive event that hopefully for once and for all will put an end to the historical political problems between our two countries. As The Queen put it so profoundly “yes we all have made mistakes and in hindsight things could have and should have been done differently”.

Her visit has had and will continue to have significant importance and has transformed for the better the goodwill between our two countries. On the anniversary of her visit Pat O Connell, not a man to miss an opportunity, sent to the palace a fresh wild salmon caught that morning on the River Lee.

A letter came back from Windsor Castle in appreciation; less formal this time than previous letters he had received “Dear Pat”   rather than Mr O Connell! Added to the formal letter of thanks was a postscript note, written in hand by The Queen’s Deputy Private Secretary Mr Peter Young, who accompanied the Queen on her visit to the English market which said.” The salmon was judged to be delicious”. Thanks Pat for what you did to promote Cork and Ireland in your own inimitable humourous Cork way.

The final highlight of the last 5 years was for me a Leonard Cohen concert in Dublin a few years ago was a visit to a wonderful open air event in Kilmainham and thankfully the rain stayed away. A few glasses of red wine and some wonderful music…bliss…Mind you when I went back after the interval for a refill all the good red wine was gone and it was only afterwards when I heard that Bill Hannan and his friends were also at the concert that night that I understood where it had all gone!

Ted Dwyer Family Business

 February 2014

Ted Dwyer is the Founding Director of City Life Wealth Advisors a family business in Cork