Entrepreneur John Teeling taking his foot off the business pedal

‘I don’t want to be making long distance journeys ... I’ll just dispense wisdom instead. Ha!’

John Teeling, of Cooley Distillery: ‘I have plenty to be doing.’ File photograph:

John Teeling, of Cooley Distillery: ‘I have plenty to be doing.’ File photograph:

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Serial entrepreneur John Teeling has had a diverse and successful career stretching back about 50 years.

So was the announcement on Wednesday that he is stepping down as chairman of Clontarf Energy a signal that the 76-year-old is planning finally to slip into retirement?

Not quite, although he admits to wanting to scale back on is workload. For a start he will remain as a non-executive director of the company. “I don’t want to travel and be making long-distance journeys anymore,” he tells Cantillon. “I don’t want to be travelling to the likes of Ghana, Bolivia and Chad at this stage. I’ll just dispense wisdom instead. Ha!”

Teeling remains, for the time being at least, as chairman of three other listed resource companies – Arkle, Botswana Diamonds and Petrel. Will he be stepping back from any of these? “Maybe,” he replies , signalling that he’s unlikely to retain all three.

Teeling says he was previously making up to 100 flights a year for business purposes, mostly visiting far-flung countries where his various mining companies had licences. “I don’t miss that,” he says in reference to his life amid lockdown restrictions. “It’s time to give a chance to someone else. The problem is that the young fellas are in their 60s.”

This is a reference to his long-time business associates – David Horgan, (61), who is taking over as executive chairman of Clontarf Energy, and Jim Finn (62). Both have soldiered with Teeling in many companies down the years.

The veteran entrepreneur recently visited a drill rig in Wexford, for the first time in an age due to coronavirus restrictions, and is regularly up and down to his Great Northern Distillery in Dundalk, which is producing about 800,000 bottles of whiskey a week .“We’re very busy and it’s growing fast,” he says.

“We’re probably the second biggest distiller in the country now, behind Irish Distillers [makers of Jameson]. I have plenty to be doing.”

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