Saturday 21 September 2019

Porterhouse pub founder Oliver Hughes left over €20m in his will

CAREER CHANGE: Oliver Hughes first practised law
CAREER CHANGE: Oliver Hughes first practised law
Liam Collins

Liam Collins

Colourful publican and businessman Oliver Hughes, founder of the Porterhouse pub chain and Dingle Distillery, has left more than €20m in his will, according to documents lodged in the Probate Office in Dublin.

Mr Hughes, who died of a suspected heart attack in July 2016 at the age of 57, is credited with introducing "craft beer" to Ireland along with his cousin and long-term business partner Liam LaHart.

They also founded the Dingle Whiskey Distillery in Co Kerry, which was the first purpose-built distillery to open in Ireland in two centuries. It is now a large employer in the Gaeltacht town, with acclaimed gin and whiskey brands.

Born in Nottingham, England, where his Irish-born father Brian was a barrister and magistrate, he spent his summers with his cousins on a farm near Thurles, Co Tipperary.

After studying law in England, he came to live in Ireland in the mid-1980s and was called to the Bar after studying in King's Inns.

Although he practised in the Four Courts in Dublin, Hughes was more interested in pursuing his two great enthusiasms, beer and music.

He renewed his interest in craft brewing, which had developed during his student days, when he and LaHart founded Harty's brewery in Blessington, Co Wicklow, and later Dempsey's in Inchicore, Dublin, neither of which was a major success.

In 1989, they bought The Wavescrest Lounge in Bray, Co Wicklow, and from that, began to build a pub empire with the opening of The Porterhouse Group, which started with a premises in Parliament Street, Dublin, and now includes a chain of bars and restaurants in Ireland and England, including Lillie's Bordello off Grafton Street.

Liam LaHart related that their accountant had advised against opening the pub and micro brewery. He said during the obsequies for Mr Hughes: "Many of the publicans here today at his funeral service looked around and asked each other 'how long will it last?'."

Described as a businessman of Fairview, Dublin, Oliver Hughes, who died on July 31, 2016, at Beaumont Hospital, left estate valued at €20,097,482. He left his estate in its entirety to his wife, Helen Stacey, in a will which was witnessed in 2000.

At his funeral service in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin, mourners were told that, although he had travelled all over the world for business and pleasure, "Dingle was the location closest to his heart." His business partner added that "whereas Oliver gets the kudos for everything, he definitely deserves the kudos for that".

Sunday Independent

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