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Wednesday 24 September 2014

Tributes for businessman who made first deal when he was 11

Published 04/04/2014 | 02:30

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03-04-2014: Eileen Courtney  at the funeral of her husband  David Courtney at St. Mary's Cathedral, Killarney on Thursday.  Picture: Eamonn Keogh (MacMonagle, Killarney)
Eileen Courtney at the funeral of her husband David Courtney at St. Mary's Cathedral, Killarney. Picture: Eamonn Keogh (MacMonagle, Killarney)

HE was known for his multi-million euro deals – but the best one he ever sealed was getting his wife, Eileen, to agree to marry him.

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Mourners at the funeral of David Courtney were told that the 52-year-old businessman and co-owner of Dublin's Shelbourne Hotel slipped away on Sunday "quietly" and "unassumingly" like he did most things in life. His brother, Conor, said the family was "devastated" by his death, which had left "a huge hole" in their lives they didn't know how they were going to fill.

The 52-year-old father of four was laid to rest in his native Killarney, in Co Kerry, yesterday. He died suddenly at his Dublin home at Belgrave Square in Rathmines at the weekend, following a short illness.

Mr Courtney is survived by his wife, Eileen, and his children Diane, Donal, Amanda and Conor.

Conor Courtney said his brother David's first business deal was when he paid £13.50 for a donkey so he could enter the derby at Glenbeigh Races when he was 11. The man he had bought the donkey from handed him back the 50p, telling him that was his 'luck money'.

He said this lesson had registered with his brother and was something he carried with him in all his business dealings – that he wasn't the only party involved.

David Courtney came to prominence following his involvement in many high-profile deals during the boom, including the buyout of the Superquinn chain.

He was also part of the consortium, along with businessman Bernard McNamara, that bought the Shelbourne Hotel for around €140m in 2004 and later refurbished it for an estimated €125m.

But the publicity his business dealings generated were at odds with the devoted family man who was happiest at home.

"David was totally about his family and that was a side of him many didn't see," his brother added.

"He was so much for doing things at home and was never one who wanted to go out and celebrate things that may seem important.

"For David, what was important was to come home to where he was so loved, honoured and respected and where when he walked in the door everything was alright.

"His best deal was getting Eileen to marry him. He was a great talker but as he said in his speech at the wedding, he wasn't that good a talker – because it took him seven years to coax her to marry him."

Mr Courtney said he couldn't let the opportunity pass without mentioning organ donation, a subject that was very close to his brother's heart.

He said unfortunately, for medical reasons, they were not able to donate his brother's organs, but he would nevertheless have wanted him to highlight the issue.

Chief celebrant and family friend Fr Brendan Carr said Mr Courtney had come home to the town he loved and home to God. Mr Courtney, who was also a qualified auctioneer, set up the consultancy Spain Courtney Doyle with Bernard Doyle and Paddy Spain in the late 1980s, having left the estate agency Lisney.

Among the mourners at his funeral was former billionaire Mr McNamara, who was discharged from bankruptcy in the UK last month, and his wife Moira.

Irish Independent

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