Adrian Hopkins recalled as ‘risk taker’ at funeral service

Travel business owner was arrested in 1987 for carrying Libyan arms destined for IRA

Adrian Hopkins admitted four previous shipments of arms from Libya for the IRA. He skipped bail in France but was arrested in Ireland in 1990 and in 1991 was sentenced to eight years in prison, five of which were suspended.

Adrian Hopkins admitted four previous shipments of arms from Libya for the IRA. He skipped bail in France but was arrested in Ireland in 1990 and in 1991 was sentenced to eight years in prison, five of which were suspended.

 

The daughter of the skipper of a ship that smuggled IRA arms from Libya to Ireland in the 1980s described him as “an adventurer and a risk-taker” at his funeral.

Tara Hopkins said her father Adrian had many ventures on the high seas, “some of which were ill-advised and ended in misadventure”, but “he absolutely loved boats”.

Mr Hopkins, who ran a charter boat operation after his travel agency Bray Travel went into liquidation in controversial circumstances in 1980, was arrested by French police in 1987 after his cargo vessel The Eksund was found to be carrying arms destined for the IRA.

Died suddenly

Mr Hopkins died suddenly last Sunday. The chief mourners at his requiem mass in the Church of the Holy Rosary in Greystones, Co Wicklow, were his widow Stephanie (White), children Steven, Adrian, Tara and Neil, grandchildren Ronan, Lexie, Anna and Tom, his sisters, daughters-in-law Sorcha and Hannah, son-in-law Steven, and extended family and friends.

Binoculars, a wedding photograph, sailing magazine, compass and a copy of The Irish Times were symbols of the life of the businessman and sailor.

Fr Gerard Young told the congregation their role, and the role of the wider Christian community, was to recommend the dead for eternal life with God.

He read from the Gospel of John that “whoever seeks the light shall not be turned away”. He said, “Jesus will not lose anything that has been given to him to bring to the father.”

As the Offertory gifts were brought to the altar Mr Hopkins’s nephew Scott Maher played Carrickfergus on the guitar.

Mr Hopkins’s cousin Paul Fairclough later played Hallelujah on the guitar and Bree Harris sang The River Knows Your Name.

In a eulogy, Mr Hopkins’s daughter Tara said her father was an “awkward” and “clever” man who had great interest in politics and current affairs. He was a “diabolical” driver and had a great passion for the sea, she said.

He was “an adventurer and a risk-taker” who had sea ventures, she said, “some of which were ill advised and ended in misadventure”, but “he absolutely loved boats”.

Sugarloaf fire

She recalled the time Mr Hopkins “had set fire to the Little Sugarloaf while testing out a flare gun” and recalled long family discussions over dinner.

His politics were under pinned by compassion, she said. But she said the “heart of who the man really was” was contained in the words “gentle and kind”.

He was generous to a fault, a feminist with “just the right amount of fear when it came to women” and avoided the pub in favour of a drink at home with his wife.

Mr Hopkins’s remains were taken to Mount Jerome for cremation and his family asked that donations be made to the RNLI in lieu of flowers.

PACKAGE TOUR OPERATOR TURNED ARMS SHIPPER

Adrian Hopkins was well known in the travel business when he ran Bray Travel, one of the first major Irish tour operators.

His media-friendly style helped to build the business before it collapsed in 1980.

On October 31st, 1987 French police boarded the small freighter The Eksund being skippered by Hopkins near Brest.

It was carrying 150 tonnes of arms and ammunition for the IRA, including 1,000 mortars, a million rounds of ammunition, 20 surface-to-air missiles, 120 rocket-propelled grenades, 430 grenades and a dozen heavy machine guns.

Hopkins admitted four previous shipments of arms from Libya for the IRA. He skipped bail in France but was arrested in Ireland in 1990 and in 1991 was sentenced to eight years in prison, five of which were suspended.

Bray Travel had pioneered the package tour business in Ireland, accounting for some 20 per cent of the Irish tour market and 35 per cent of holidays to the Canaries. In 1979 it had an estimated turnover of £7 million (almost €10 million).

But in the last weeks of operation more than £340,000 in cash and cheques went missing. The money was paid in response to telephone warnings that holidays would be cancelled if they were not immediately paid in full.