Saturday 10 December 2016

Brothers are both kings of the Castle

Mark and Joe Scott-Lennon love working together at the family-owned Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel in Killiney

Published 21/11/2016 | 02:30

Mark (right) and Joe Scott-Lennon are managers at their family-owned hotel. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Mark (right) and Joe Scott-Lennon are managers at their family-owned hotel. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Sisters get a bad rap for "borrowing" each other's things, but according to hotel managers Mark and Joe Scott-Lennon, brothers are just as bad. Mark is second-eldest, Joe is youngest and there's an older brother James and another, David, who comes between them. They say their wardrobe was "fairly communal" growing up together in Blackrock.

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"We're all pretty much the same build and shoe size, so there was a lot of robbing going on," says Joe. "The older brothers lost out, because they bought all the nice stuff and I would just take it. I massively looked up to my brothers, but when we were younger, it was myself and David versus James and Mark. When David got into his teens, he started to relate more to Mark and James, and I was left in no-man's-land. That was a particularly desperate point in my life as I thought they all hated me!"

The brothers laughingly recall an occasion where Mark threw Halloween monkey nuts at 16-year-old Joe from behind to wind him up. Their brother David laughed and Joe assumed he was the culprit, so he chased him around the house and aimed a punch at his back. Unfortunately, it caught David's shoulder blade, and while he was fine, Joe ended up breaking his hand, and it took three surgeries and pins to fix the damage. Happily for Joe, he caught up and the four rugby-mad siblings (who all played for Blackrock College) get on famously now and are best friends. Mark is dating Susan while Joe's girlfriend is Lucy. They socialise with James, a senior manager with Accenture, and his wife Vicky, and David, an account manager with media company OMD, and his girlfriend Keelin. "My friends slag me about how close I am to my family," says Mark. "We have a family dinner every Sunday and that can't be moved."

Mark, 29, and Joe, 23, are the sons of Eithne Fitzpatrick, proprietor of the 18th-century Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel in Killiney, and her husband, James Scott-Lennon, retired owner of the Abbey Tavern in Howth. As someone with four younger brothers and four sons, Eithne is truly blessed among men. "I was Mum's last shot for a girl but she got another boy," laughs Joe. "She used to drag me around the shops, trying on clothes for me like I was her daughter, I was delighted when Vicky came into the family and took that role off me."

Mark completed his degree in economics and politics at UCD followed by a master's in hospitality and is the hotel's general manager. Having acquired his degree in economics at UCD, Joe embarked on the hotel's trainee manager programme and is now duty manager. Under a family succession plan, their mum Eithne took ownership of the hotel in 2002, when her father Paddy, who owned several hotels, passed away. Mark and Joe recall staying there as children for Christmas, when their grandfather would open up the swimming pool just for them. "I don't think I realised the love that I had for this place until I started working here," says Joe. "Mark doesn't treat me any differently to anyone else, but it can be hard when I want to banter with him, but I can't because we're at work. He is very generous with his time and really approachable to everyone, and that really benefits the hotel. He was one of the youngest general managers in the country when he started, so it would have been easy for him to come in and act the big man, but he didn't."

Mark says Joe is respectful of his seniority, but will express something he feels needs to be said. "It's great to know that when I leave, there is still someone in there who really and truly cares," says Mark. "Having said that, we have an amazing, really loyal staff working with us, including Sean the chef, who has been there for 45 years and is incredible at his job. Joe has an exceptional personality and is more of an extrovert than me, and he's really good at creating relationships with people."

The brothers say that working with their mum is great, because she has so much knowledge and great skills in sales and marketing. "Mum isn't overbearing with her views and is really supportive," says Mark. "She hasn't agreed with my decisions at times and knew they wouldn't work out, but she let me figure things out for myself."

Mark and Joe say they appreciate the support they get from the local community, and love to think that their family plays a role in other people's special family occasions.

"I was speaking to a guest recently who celebrated all of their family's christenings, Communion, birthdays and other milestones at our hotel, which is amazing," says Joe. "Our relationship with our guests is genuinely personal, and we like to feel that we are giving something from our family to theirs."

The Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel, Killiney. Tel: (01) 230 5400 or visit www.fitzpatrickcastle.com

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