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Monday 29 May 2017

'He lived for his daughter' - Shock at holiday death of father and 'role-model' Dublin restaurateur (44)

Keith Lawless died after falling ill in Barcelona
Keith Lawless died after falling ill in Barcelona

Conor Feehan and Ian Begley

Tributes have been paid to a popular and talented Dublin restaurateur who died suddenly while on holiday with friends.

Keith Lawless (44) was in Barcelona when tragedy struck on Saturday.

He ran the popular and successful Dillinger's restaurant in Ranelagh.

It did not open on Saturday night as his colleagues and friends tried to come to terms with his passing and remained closed for the weekend as a mark of respect.

It is not clear what caused Keith's death but it has been reported he became separated from his friends and may have been asking local police for help when he fell ill and died a short time later.

Devastating

John Farrell, owner of Dillinger's, The Butcher Grill, 777, Super Miss Sue and Luna has said that Keith would want people to celebrate his life.

"The whole thing is just devastating," he told the Herald. "I was quite close him - we were colleagues and good friends.

"He was a driver, not a passenger. Of course Keith is going to be mourned, it's a tremendous loss but I'm sure he would want everyone to celebrate his life, which I think is a very important thing.

"Keith was a leader and role model. It's hard to put it into words. He was just one of the best people I've worked with in the industry and my heart goes out to his family and daughter.

"I think we're all just in a state of shock at the moment. It cuts right to the bone and I don't think a lot of us have digested it. I think we just want to make sure to know how he would like to be remembered and celebrated," he said.

Leo Molloy, bar manager of the four restaurants, told the Herald that Keith's passing is a "tremendous loss" to everyone he worked with.

"We'll mourn this loss but equally celebrate him and his life. He was a role model; one of the best restaurant managers I've ever had the pleasure to work with and also a personal friend. Our thoughts are with his family."

Mr Molloy said Keith had a passion for food and wine and in the past two years had made Dillinger's "come into its own".

Friend Caroline Dornan, told the Herald that Keith lived for his daughter, Teaghan.

"They would always be out cycling together, that was their daddy daughter thing they would always do. Nearly every week they would go to the pictures or go into town and bring my daughter [with them] and all hang out.

"Teaghan was his world and he was hers. He lit up when she was around. They loved hanging out together. They were best friends. It's absolutely devastating that he is gone. We are all heartbroken that this has happened," she said.

The Department of Foreign Affairs is providing consular assistance to Mr Lawless' family.

Locals in Ranelagh said Dillinger's staff were visibly upset by the news of his death.

Messages

"They were crying and supporting each other. I didn't know what had happened but then I saw a sign in the window later on saying RIP Keith and explaining that the restaurant would be closed that day," said one local worker.

On the Facebook page for Dillinger's a message was posted saying: "This weekend reminded us how important friends, family, and loved ones are. Take the time to tell yours what they mean to you."

Many messages of tribute have been left following the post. One called Keith an "amazing soul", while others referred to him as a special person, a good guy, a gent and great host.

Arrangements are being made to repatriate Keith's body to Ireland and funeral details are expected to be announced later this week.

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