'A visionary whose dreams came true'
WITH arms wrapped strongly around one another's shoulders, the grief-stricken sons of publican Hugh O'Regan paid a moving tribute to their father as a man who had "loads of dreams and loads of his dreams came true".
Mourners at his funeral yesterday rose in a spontaneous standing ovation for the 49-year-old father of four, who died after suffering a heart attack while out walking in Newtownmountkennedy last Monday.
Mr O'Regan was the best-known publican of the Celtic Tiger era, "revolutionising" the face of the capital's streets. His funeral yesterday told of a "visionary", a "good man", a perfectionist and a philosopher of deep faith.
His eldest son, Stephen, his voice cracking with emotion, revealed how, thanks to the help his father had given to friends setting up business ventures, 500,000 African children were now able to use computers – with 35,000 old computers distributed to more than seven countries.
He told of his father's plans for the Kilternan Sports Hotel, which he had dreamed of developing as a campus of learning and healing, with Google, Microsoft and Intel coming on board together to establish a "new campus of ideas".
Son Alex said his father had impacted on the lives of "so many people here". But his biggest legacy was his family, whom he had always encouraged to "follow their desires and stay true to their beliefs".
Applause accompanied the woven wicker casket that contained the remains of the well-known publican and hotelier as they left his funeral for cremation.
Chief mourners at the funeral were Mr O'Regan's wife Adrienne and his sons Stephen, Adam, Alex and Hugo, who are aged 14 to 27, and his brothers, Declan and Paul. Mr O'Regan is predeceased by his brother Jack, who died tragically in 2002.
The congregation also included John Rocha – who designed the Morrison hotel for Mr O'Regan – with his wife Odette, promoter John Reynolds, chef Dylan McGrath, hotelier Tom Moran and sports commentator Brent Pope.
Also there was businessman Ben Dunne and staff and pupils of Gongaza College – where Mr O'Regan's two younger sons are pupils – along with Noel Curran, Director General of RTE, where Adrienne works.
Chief celebrant Fr Joe Kennedy commented that there were many among the congregation to whom Hugh gave employment, "many who benefited from his business acumen and his work ethic".
He described Mr O'Regan as a perfectionist who "loved to see things done well".
But he said Mr O'Regan was primarily a family man – "a loving husband and a great father".
Mr O'Regan's son Adam sang a moving version of U2's 'Kite', in which he expressed heartfelt grief and his strong belief that "this is not goodbye".
After the ceremony, the remains were taken for cremation at Mount Jerome crematorium in Harolds Cross.
Mr O'Regan became a high-profile poster boy for the Celtic Tiger economy.
His pub empire The Thomas Read Group was behind many of the 'superpubs' in Dublin, including Pravda and The Bailey. However, following the downturn, his business interests collapsed, with debts of €260m.