Tributes as Des Kelly, 'the Carpet Man', dies aged 75
Tributes have been paid to regarded businessman Des Kelly, who passed away suddenly in the early hours of yesterday at his home in Dunboyne, Co Meath.
Mr Kelly (75), 'the Carpet Man', was one of Ireland's best-known businessmen - thanks in part to the catchy radio ads run by his eponymous business for the last number of decades.
Born in May 1941, Mr Kelly grew up in north inner-city Dublin.
He started dealing in second-hand carpets in the 1960s and eventually built up Des Kelly Interiors, which now operates 13 shops and employs around 100 staff.
Mr Kelly was a fan of Bohemian FC, his local football team, and following the success of his business, it became the club's sponsor.
A man of deep religious faith, his shops would close on Sundays, which he felt should be reserved for families.
Mr Kelly's younger brother was crime boss Eamon Kelly, who was shot dead in 2012.
Mr Kelly chose a different path and was never involved in crime.
Friends have praised his generosity of spirit and spoken of the charity work Mr Kelly carried out in aid of the homeless.
Few, bar close friends, knew about his passion for volunteering.
Long-time friend and work colleague Paul O'Farrell, an accountant with the family business, explained Mr Kelly felt blessed to have been so successful and always wanted to give back.
He volunteered with the Morning Star hostel for the homeless on North Brunswick Street, but kept the work below the radar during his life.
"It's probably a side of him that is the least well-known, but he was working with the Morning Star hostel for many, many years," Mr O'Farrell told the Irish Independent.
"Des always cared deeply about homelessness, long before the current crisis that we're in and the current media attention.
"He felt he had a good life and was blessed by all the success he had. He wanted to give back," Mr O'Farrell said.
"He would go down and dish out food, or help with organising the finances if that's what was needed.
"It's not something he talked about that much, though his close friends would have known about it.
"It was probably his one great passion in recent years.
"Des was very well liked by his staff and in the community. We've been getting phone calls all day."
The businessman had eight children with his late wife Yolanda - Matthew, Desmond, Denise, Gregory, Gillian, Yolanda, Orlando and Gerardo.