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Sunday 26 February 2017

Crisis-hit developer never forgot roots

Barry Duggan

BERNARD McNamara's home town of Lisdoonvarna is a long way from the cut and thrust of the high-powered business world where he made his name.

Situated in north Clare, the town made famous by Christy Moore is a popular haunt for tourists and music lovers -- and, of course, singles seeking fun and possibly more at the annual matchmaking festival. While it is a long time since Mr McNamara left Lisdoonvarna, he has never forgotten his roots and many in the town spoke highly of him yesterday.

The son of popular builder, 'Mikey Mac', Mr McNamara grew up alongside his family business.

Publican Peter Curtin, who runs the Roadside Tavern, went to school with Mr McNamara and played youth football with him.

"Bernard played full-back with Lisdoonvarna until he went into St Flannan's in Ennis and moved on to the family business," Mr Curtin recalled.

"He was always very shrewd and had a great business brain on him. His family were always well got here. They employed a lot of people and kept a lot of people from the emigration boat -- they were good employers to everyone who worked for them. When he was working in Limerick, he'd often put me into the back of the car and give me a lift into college. He learnt the family business on the sites in the 1970s," Mr Curtin added.

The McNamaras won contracts to build housing projects for Clare County Council along with a large entertainment complex in Lahinch and an extension to Galway hospital.

A Fianna Fail man, Bernard McNamara served two terms as councillor on Clare County Council, but failed to get elected to the Dail in the 1981 General Election when he gained 2,676 first-preference votes in his home constituency.

Lahinch hotelier Michael Vaughan said Mr McNamara "never lost sight of where he came from".

Yesterday, the financial world that Mr McNamara thrived on came crashing down around him like the thunderous waves of the Atlantic Ocean cascading on the coast of Clare. After all his trials and tribulations, should Mr McNamara seek comfort over the coming weeks, he can be guaranteed a warm welcome from Lisdoonvarna to Lahinch.

Irish Independent

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