Business Irish

Saturday 23 September 2017

Lucrative deals on wheels as Paddywagon nets €1.1m profit

Paddywagon bus tour
Paddywagon bus tour
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Paddywagon, whose tourist buses adorned with a livery of leprechauns are a familiar sight on Ireland's roads, found a pot of gold with a €1.1m profit in its last financial year.

It's more than double the amount it reported in the previous financial year.

Cathal O’Connell, owner of the tourism business
Cathal O’Connell, owner of the tourism business

Newly-filed accounts for the business at the Companies Registration Office reveal the improvement in its fortunes.

The company, which is owned by Cathal O'Connell, employs about 83 people on average during the year but well over 100 during the summer.

The latest accounts don't include a number of other operations that form part of the overall business: hostels; a B&B; tourist offices; and a pub in Dingle. The firm also operates a private transportation service for clients.

O'Connell started Paddywagon in 1998, and the overall business now generates turnover in excess of €7m a year.

A UCD graduate, O'Connell went to secondary school in Roscrea, Co Tipperary. His father owned a chain of pharmacies which he sold to Hickeys. One of his O'Connell's Paddywagon employees once joked that their boss is a mix between Donald Trump and Joseph Stalin. Mr O'Connell was an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year finalist in 2009.

The company has expanded its activities to the UK in recent years, and now offers tours to destinations including Stonehenge, Oxford and the cliffs of Dover. It operates those UK tours out of London.

In a previous interview with the Irish Independent, Mr O'Connell said that he had little interest in entering the family pharmacy business.

"In pharmacy, in a shop, you're dealing with a lot of people who have issues," he said. "It's a lot of dark clouds. It was always 'Can I have my mad pills and my sad pills please?' With Paddywagon the sun is shining every day of the week."

Figures recently released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) showed that the total number of trips to Ireland rose 6.6pc to 2.76m between April and June.

But trips to Ireland from Britain fell 6.4pc to 949,200 in the period.

Trips to Ireland by residents of other European Union countries increased by 10.1pc to just over 1m.

Trips by residents of North America to Ireland rose 21pc to 629,000 in the three-month period, according to the CSO.

Irish Independent

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