Business Irish

Tuesday 16 October 2018

PAPER PROPHET Brendan O'Connor

What car do you drive and do you still have a no-claims bonus?

2001 Saab convertible that I love very much and, yes, I have a no-claims bonus. I'm a very good driver.

What was your first job andsalary?

Bread van. Six quid a day, I think.

Do you have any family connection with business?

My grandfather John Moriarty in Glengarriff was "John Moriarty and Sons: Handmade Shoes and Sandals, Handbags and Travel Bags. First Prize for Handmade Shoes." We still have the notepaper at home.

They came from far and wide for his shoes. I think he made a huge killing buying up army surplus boots after the war and shodding West Cork in them.

That would have been a similar shop to the little leather shops that grew into Gucci and Prada. Nana, his wife, had a tea rooms which meant that even with the worst of the war shortages they were always fairly well fed. They did souvenirs and sold and hired bikes too. I think this entrepreneurial gene might have got lost somewhere, though a few of my brothers are successful businessmen.

Who would you like to see as (Irish) Minister for Finance?

Tony O'Reilly - and I'd say that even if I didn't work for him. But then no one with balls and vision goes into politics, do they?

Which businessman/woman do you most admire?

Aside from the above, on whose various enterprises I've made a few good killings, I think Jay Bourke is a great businessman for the 21st century in the way that he knows and loves and understands and respects his market and in the way that he creates beautiful things and places and gives great value. I would invest in anything he did and enjoy being a customer of his very much.

Do you own an iPod? If so, what was the last track you downloaded?

Yes. The last thing I downloaded was the Good, the Bad and the Queen's album. Damon Albarn is an underrated genius, a Bowie for our times.

What was your bestinvestment?

Doubled my money on Man United shares and got an extraordinary painting at a knockdown rate over the course of a very long night with Mick Mulcahy, which will hopefully turn out to be a great investment.

I fell in love with it at first sight at the exhibition but it took about eight hours, including Lillies and Renards, to get to the right price.

What is the worst investment decision you ever made?

I spread bet against the dollar a few years back. If I had held my nerve I'd have made a fortune. I didn't and my stake was so stupidly huge that the first slight rally in the dollar wiped me out. I also spent four years in UCC doing a commerce degree during which no one mentioned I should be out buying property.

Today would you invest in property, shares, cash or other?

Like everyone, I'm bamboozled right now, but I guess buy blue chip shares or else hoard cash and wait to pick up bargains in the next few years. Was it Rockefeller who reckoned the real money isn't made when the markets are good?

Do you own property abroad?


Is your mortgage rate fixed or variable?


Have you switched your bank or moved your mortgage in the last couple of years?

Reasonably happy with the mortgage people. However, I threaten to move banks every time my bank treats me badly, but haven't. Threatening again at the moment on account of credit-card messing. The banks don't seem to have learnt anything about customer service. But they are a necessary evil in that we are not allowed to not have a bank account these days. I despise them.

Has your bank, building society or another financial services company ever overcharged you?

A few misunderstandings would be the fairest thing to say.

Do you have an SSIA? Will you splurge or invest the windfall?

Yes, a deposit one, that is going towards a kitchen.

Do you have a will?

No, but I have a way.

What is your salary?

(a) ?20-?50k; (b) ?50-?100k; (c) ?100-?200k; (d) ?250k+

It varies. Less than you think.

Which mobile-phone provider do you use: 02, Vodafone, Meteor or 3?

O2, it's a work phone

What would you spend more money on each year? Petrol or restaurants.

Restaurants. The wife runs the car.

What are your favourite radio and television programmes?

TV would be the usual: Huff, West Wing, Sopranos, Seinfeld (still), Curb your Enthusiasm, Lost, vintage NYPD Blue late at night, Tubridy Tonight and the Late Late, and that new show on E4 Skins is really brilliantly done. The British Lottery show 1 vs 100 is great, And, of course, You're a Star (RTE 1 Sunday nights 6.30pm and results show at 8.30pm).

Who makes the financial decisions in your house, you or your spouse/partner?

I am allowed to believe I do.

What is your best career


We had a novelty record called Who's in the House? which, with no record company and no marketing or anything, outsold U2's Beautiful Day in the year of its release. It got us our deposit on our first house.

When Anne Harris convinced me to become editor of LIFE magazine, it was an unlikely move for me, but it has turned out to be great fun and very challenging. I work with a brilliant team who are great fun and always stimulating, and it has made me grow up - a little.

What, in your opinion, are the reasons for the Celtic Tiger?

God, I don't know. Education and tax regime, the latter is not going to be a sustainable competitive advantage for much longer, I hear.

How much is a litre of milk?

Don't know exactly, but I'll tell you something interesting - it's very cheap in Marks & Spencer.

Brendan O'Connor is Editor of Sunday Independent LIFE magazine and a judge on 'You're a Star', RTE1 at 6.30pm on Sundays with the results show at 8.30pm

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