Saturday 10 December 2016

Paul John Byrne

Former senior executive at Hardwicke property firm, who was responsible for the building of the IFSC in Dublin

Published 23/10/2011 | 05:00

Paul John Byrne, who died recently, was known as PJB among his colleagues at the property company Hardwicke, where he was a senior executive responsible for building the International Financial Service Centre (IFSC) in Dublin.

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Raised in Collins Avenue, Dublin, he attended Marino and O'Connell schools before training as an accountant with Craig Gardiners.

He went on to work for the Rank Organisation, or Odeon as it was known then, in the old Theatre Royal. Around this time he met the love of his life, Audrey. They married when he was 21 and moved to London.

He found work with Sliver Altmans, a Jewish-run company where he made many friends in the London Jewish business circles and went on to work for the property companies of Prince Radzual and later Sefton Myers.

One night, Myers (who was Judy Tzuke's father) met two young composers at a party and sent them in for Paul to sign up. The young Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice arrived on the Monday morning looking for their new writing space, only to find a bunch of accountants and secretaries in a formal working office.

Paul quickly organised a flat nearby for them to work in and came home with their demo tape, which the family still remember as an awful dirge, which a few years and many improvements later became Joseph and His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.

Through his brother in-law Lorcan Bourke, whose family owned The Gaiety and The Olympia theatres, the family was immersed in music and the theatre.

In 1969, Paul was head-hunted by the Irish property company Hardwicke Ltd for his experience of large-scale commercial developments in England.

He moved the family back to Raheny and at Hardwicke he spent the first few years selling tenement properties to realise capital for the company to start the big developments he had been brought home to Ireland to do. Soon Hardwicke became one of the largest private property development companies in Ireland.

Paul brought the swinging Sixties to Raheny where the family became known as the 'Party Byrnes' because of the sing-songs and get-togethers, which is probably why his children, Paul, Lorraine and Jeannette, all ended up in the entertainment world.

On one occasion, Paul came back from a night out in the nearby Old Shieling Hotel with the entire band and resumed the session.

After moving to Howth, where he became a part of the village community, he spent his time tinkering and making small home improvements. He used to have his piano in the living room, which he would sometimes play at parties, but later he bought a big electric organ, which he placed in the bay window overlooking the sea. Sunday mornings he would get up and play for hours, often doing renditions of I Do Like to Live Beside the Seaside so that passers-by must have thought they were on Brighton pier.

In that time at Hardwicke, he was instrumental in building many landmark buildings in Dublin, including The Setanta Centre and Warrington House. But his greatest achievement was that he became known as the man who built the IFSC. He retired in 2004.

Sunday Independent

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