Jones Engineering chairman dies at 89

Cork-born Chris Jones led company for more than six decades

The death has taken place of businessman and Jones Engineering chairman Chris Jones. Mr Jones (89) died on Saturday at his home in Dunshaughlin, Co Meath.

Born in Co Cork, the youngest of nine children, he left school at 16 to do a plumbing apprenticeship before moving to Dublin to work at HA O’Neill. He quickly progressed at the company, acquiring a majority shareholding and becoming managing director at 25.

In 1971 the company was awarded the mechanical services contract for a 538,000sq ft factory being built for Ferenka in Limerick, at the time one of the largest industrial projects ever undertaken in Ireland.

Umbrella company
By this time, Mr Jones had acquired a number of businesses and so formed the umbrella company Jones Engineering Group which comprised HA O'Neill, Patrick Lynch and Co, Irish Sprinkler and Fire Protection, Dublin Shipping and Climate Engineering.

Jones Engineering Group was floated in June 1973 and broke records for the amount raised by public issue here. Valuing the company at £5 million, some 2,550,000 ordinary shares of 10p each were offered for sale at 51p per share. The issue was oversubscribed 38.5 times with 98 million shares sought totalling £50 million.


In 1996, he stepped down from the board. The following year, a review of the shipping and manufacturing divisions recommended the disposal of these divisions. In 1998 it was also decided to take the company off the stock exchange and go private. At that time, Mr Jones assumed the chair of Jones Engineering Group.

During his six decades at Jones Engineering, it grew to become one of the leading engineering contractors in Ireland, employing more than 1,200.

According to a statement from the company its turnover is more than €180 million a year, and it has completed the design and installation of the mechanical, electrical and sprinkler services for such operations as the Gibson Hotel, Dublin airport and the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre.

Last year, in its final report on corruption in the planning process, the Mahon tribunal found that GV Wright, a former Fianna Fáil TD, received a IR£5,000 "corrupt" payment from Mr Jones in November 1992 in relation to the Ballycullen/Beechill rezoning projects. It also found that Mr Jones had made payments to the value of IR£9,000 to Cllr Don Lydon in relation to the rezoning of Ballycullen lands, and IR£17,500 to Liam Lawlor.

Outside of business, horses were his great passion. At the time of his death Mr Jones's racehorses included What Style, in training with John Oxx, winner of a Leopardstown juvenile fillies race in August 2012, and the Moore-trained Home Farm, which won the Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund Beginners Chase at Fairyhouse last February.

He is survived by his five children, 12 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. His wife Jill, whom he married in 1954, died in 2008.