Sunday 22 April 2018

Will reveals a €60m fortune built on the humble VW Beetle

WEALTHY: Nigel O’Flaherty with daughter Nicola O’Flaherty
WEALTHY: Nigel O’Flaherty with daughter Nicola O’Flaherty
Liam Collins

Liam Collins

One of Ireland's wealthiest businessmen, Irish Volkswagen heir Nigel O'Flaherty, who died last year at the age of 79, has left almost €60m in his will.

O'Flaherty and his brother, Michael, inherited the Volkswagen and Mercedes franchise for Ireland from their father, Stephen O'Flaherty, a pioneer of the Irish motor trade who was the first dealer to assemble the 'people's car' outside Germany, after he acquired a franchise in 1950.

He later added Mercedes to the portfolio before handing over the business to his two sons. They expanded in Ireland and abroad, turning the family company, O'Flaherty Holdings, into an international conglomerate, with business interests in Ireland, Europe and the United States.

The brothers were described as "the most influential but least-known figures in Irish business" because they shunned personal publicity while keeping it very much a family company over more than half a century.

Nigel O'Flaherty was born in 1937 and grew up in the idyllic surroundings of the 500-acre Straffan House estate (now the K-Club) which his father had acquired from the French/Irish Barton wine family. After his initial schooling in Ireland, he was educated at the English Benedictine public school, Ampleforth College in North Yorkshire, and studied accountancy before returning to Ireland.

After their parents separated, the family moved to the imposing Sherlockstown House, near Sallins, Co Kildare and following the death of his mother, Dorothy, Nigel O'Flaherty took up full-time residence there.

According to documents in the probate office Nigel Francis O'Flaherty, described as a company director who died in July, 2016, left estate valued at €59,214,570.

His executors were his wife Geraldine O'Flaherty and Dublin solicitor Sylvester Riordan. He left his shares in O'Flaherty Holdings to his wife, his Dublin residence in Cabinteely, Co Dublin to his daughter Lauren, his 200-acre estate at Sherlockstown and the house to his wife for her lifetime and then to be divided among his five children, Stephen, Nicola, Karenina, Michael and Lauren.

As well various funds to be administered by his trustees, he left the residue of his estate to be divided equally among his children. By the time their father died in 1962, Michael and Nigel O'Flaherty had quietly and diligently built O'Flaherty Holdings into a multi-million company with interests in car importing, distribution and retailing in Ireland, with brands such as VW, Audi, Mazda, Skoda and Porsche. They also established a holding company in America which has interests in air conditioning, ventilation and lift manufacturing in Waco, Texas and a number of construction and plant hire firms. The family employs more than 1,000 people.

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