Key figure in motor trade and Waterford business community

Tom Sheridan: January 13th, 1938 – April 20th, 2014

Sat, May 3, 2014, 00:55

Tom Sheridan, who died peacefully at his home in Waterford on Easter Sunday surrounded by family and friends, was a key figure for many years in the motor trade, the Waterford business community, and the development of the city’s airport. He had battled with illness for 14 years.

Nearly 60 years in business, he guided the Sheridan family firm from its origin as a single motor dealer in Waterford to one of the largest Ford main dealerships in the country, expanding into ancillary businesses, including large car fleet leasing operating in Ireland, Northern Ireland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary .

As chairman of the fledgling Waterford Airport Company, he secured the involvement of the newly established Ryanair, who had their first commercial flight from Waterford to Gatwick on July 8th, 1985. Curley, Tom’s widow, still holds ticket number one issued by Ryanair.


Knight of Malta
He was very proud of his membership of the Knights of Malta, and would have felt honoured by their attendance at the large funeral in St Joseph and Benildus Church, which also saw strong representation from the motor trade.

He was enthusiastically involved in business organisations, was a past president of the Waterford Chamber of Commerce, participated in many of its committees, and was part of a group that travelled to Rochester, New York, to initiate a twinning relationship

He was a long-term member of Waterford Rotary Club, joining shortly after the formation of the club in 1969, and acted as its president in 1978-1979, receiving the highest accolade of the organisation, the Paul Harris Fellowship, for service to Rotary and the community.

He was an early member of the Aero Club and an enthusiastic pilot – this led to his involvement in developing Waterford Airport, perhaps his most public business achievement.

Sheridan moulded and guided a group of local businessmen who took over the airstrip at Waterford and set up Waterford Airport plc. The group put up a considerable funds of their own, and successfully raised over €1.25 million from the public in a campaign that involved the whole community.

This secured a facility for Waterford that allowed the southeast community access by air to London, Birmingham, Manchester, and for a time continental Europe. He led the board and in the early days was involved in securing commercial flights from Waterford by a start-up Ryanair company .

An old friend Frank Kelly said that his way of always living life to the full, always involved, always generous with his time, led to him building up numerous friends and acquaintances. His warmth and integrity set him apart and made him special.


Panache
He recalls his “style and panache” – he would never accept anything , a deal, accommodation, travel, food, wine – that was not the best. Everything was done with flair and decorum.

Sheridan and his wife Curley loved to travel, the further the better. There were worldwide trips, Caribbean adventures, and even early last year, across to Australia, visiting both Sydney and Perth. They both had a deep love of Portugal, and were in involved in properties there for many years.

He is survived by Curley, his wife of over 50 years, daughter Jennifer, sons Gerard and Joey, and grandchildren Thomas, Harry, Alex, Zoe, Emma, Anna and James.