Friday 28 October 2016

Fianna Fáil stalwart PJ Mara left no will for his €1.6m estate

Published 09/10/2016 | 02:30

Racounteur: PJ Mara died earlier this year at the age of 73 Picture: Patrick Bolger Photography
Racounteur: PJ Mara died earlier this year at the age of 73 Picture: Patrick Bolger Photography

He was one of the great political planners of the modern era - but when it came to his own mortality PJ Mara died without leaving a last will and testament.

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The debonair former government press secretary associated with Fianna Fail and its controversial Taoiseach Charles J Haughey left an estate valued at almost €1.6m, according to a document lodged in the probate office in Dublin last week.

Described as a company director of Wellington Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4, the former businessman, press secretary and consultant died on January 15 this year at the Beacon Hospital in south Dublin after a prolonged illness.

A noted raconteur who dressed in a pin-striped suit and habitually with a cigarette dangling from his mouth, he was witty, convivial and possessed a ready repartee. But he was also extremely well read and au fait with obscure political and historical references.

Born in Dublin in 1942, Mara grew up in the Drumcondra area. After finishing school in Colaiste Mhuire, he worked in a variety of businesses before going out on his own and going into the clothing business, and later selling fitted kitchens. It was during this time that he joined Fianna Fail and formed a friendship with Mr Haughey that would last for the rest of their lives.

He was appointed to the National Executive of Fianna Fail and became vice-chairman of the national organisation committee in 1981. He was appointed a senator by Haughey in 1982 during a turbulent era, but failed to win a seat in the senate election of 1983.

Although Haughey's closest aide, it wasn't until 1986 that he was finally appointed government press secretary with another close Fianna Fail adviser Fionnuala O'Kelly, now the wife of Fine Gael Taoiseach Enda Kenny, appointed head of the government information service.

According to Dermot Morgan's script for Scrap Saturday, which brought him to national attention, 'Mara' as he was known, would ask 'The Boss': "What will I tell them this evening then Taoiseach?" and Haughey would reply: "Tell them f**k all."

After the Haughey era, he established a consultancy business and had clients including Ryanair founder Tony Ryan and other wealthy businessmen, such as Tony O'Reilly and Denis O'Brien.

He travelled around the world in his capacity as a key adviser to the Digicel Group.

Mara and his wife Breda, who died in 2003, had one son, John.

At the age of 71, he had a daughter, Elena, with his partner, Sheila. He died earlier this year at the age of 73.

According to a document lodged in the Probate Office last week, Patrick James Mara, a widower, died intestate at the Beacon Hospital, leaving estate valued at €1,593,213. Letters of administration were granted to his son John, who has an address in Kinvara, Co Galway.

Sunday Independent

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