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Thursday 21 September 2017

Developer O'Callaghan hailed as 'a big man with a huge heart - a treasure to nation and his family'

Above: Shelagh O’Callaghan with her children Brian and Zelda behind the coffin of her husband Owen O’Callaghan after his funeral Mass in St Patrick’s Church, Rochestown, Cork
Photo: Mark Condren
Above: Shelagh O’Callaghan with her children Brian and Zelda behind the coffin of her husband Owen O’Callaghan after his funeral Mass in St Patrick’s Church, Rochestown, Cork Photo: Mark Condren
Owen O'Callaghan Picture: Tom Burke
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

Developer Owen O'Callaghan was hailed as an inspirational businessman whose loss robbed Ireland and his native Cork of "a national treasure".

Mr O'Callaghan (76) was described at his Requiem Mass by Fr Pat O'Mahony as "a man of huge integrity".

Yesterday's funeral proved a who's who of the worlds of politics, business and the arts.

Among the mourners was former government press secretary and lobbyist, Frank Dunlop.

Mr Dunlop, like Mr O'Callaghan, was a key figure at the Mahon Tribunal hearings.

But while Mr O'Callaghan was a well-known public figure, the priest paid tribute to the private family man, who would be sorely missed by his loved ones.

"While the papers were saying we have lost a national treasure and Cork ctity has lost a champion and a great Cork treasure, it is his family who have lost the treasure that Owen O'Callaghan was," Fr O'Mahony said.

"What a treasure - what a giant he was. He was a big man with a huge heart. He was a man who gave and nurtured so many things in the city and so many organisations - so many charitable organisations. Books could be written about him.

Michael O’Flynn Photo: Mark Condren
Michael O’Flynn Photo: Mark Condren

"But he always did his stuff, as Owen would do, very discreetly and very quietly. Owen was a friend to so many.

"He was a very big [figure], a well-known national and international figure, [but] he was also a private man.

"One of the articles in the newspapers over the past few days said Owen O'Callaghan's great legacy can be seen in the buildings around Ireland and in the buildings around Cork."

Hundreds attended the Requiem Mass in Cork of the father of three who died last Monday after falling ill over Christmas.

A native of Ballincollig, Mr O'Callaghan settled in Rochestown, with the Mass taking place in St Patrick's Church, not far from his long-time home.

The mourners were led by his wife Shelagh, children Brian and Zelda, and grandchildren Isobel, Robbie and Harry.

Frank Dunlop at the funeral of Owen O'Callaghan. Photo: Mark Condren
Frank Dunlop at the funeral of Owen O'Callaghan. Photo: Mark Condren

Mr O'Callaghan is also survived by his brother Jack and sister Gene.

The founder of construction giant O'Callaghan Properties, he was predeceased by his youngest daughter, Hazel.

The 22-year-old died in a freak equestrian accident in 2002.

Also present was Fianna Fáil finance spokesman Michael McGrath, developers Michael O'Flynn, Theo Cullinane and Tom Coughlan, Cork Chamber of Commerce officials Conor Healy, Roger Flack and Robin O'Sullivan, Millstreet businessman Noel C Duggan, Cork Airport director Niall McCarthy, rugby official Tom Kiernan, Lord Mayor of Cork Councillor Des Cahill and the Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, Dr Paul Colton.

Mr O'Callaghan ranked as one of the most influential developers in Ireland over the past 40 years and was responsible for major residential and shopping developments in Cork, Dublin and Limerick.

Amongst the projects he helped mastermind were Liffey Valley in Dublin, Arthur's Quay in Limerick, as well as several major shopping centres in Cork.

Irish Independent

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