Richard Fitzgerald was involved in research and development in aquaculture for almost 30 years.
He was born on January 22nd, 1957, and reared in Beaufort, close to Killarney, Co Kerry, where he was educated at St Brendan’s College. He completed a primary degree in zoology at University College Cork, where he was further awarded a PhD. He also held an MBA and accountancy qualifications.
In 1987, Richard began his career as technical director of Aquahatch, a salmon farming company, owned by the State venture capital agency Nadcorp, based both in Lough Allen, Co Leitrim, and at Ballinaclash, Co Wicklow.
In the early 1990s, he returned to UCC to establish and manage the Aquaculture Development Centre (now the AFDC), building it up from scratch, initially in the Lee Maltings and then overseeing a move to the Distillery Fields.
In 1998, Richard was appointed to the Aquaculture Licensing Appeals Board, part of a new regulatory system for the aquaculture industry which was intended to mirror An Bord Pleanála in hearing objections to licence applications.
He joined NUI Galway in 2006 as a senior research fellow, and shortly after became research co-ordinator and manager of the NUIG aquaculture research lab at Carna until the end of 2015, managing large-scale projects, personnel and the facility itself.
While there, Richard supervised several PhD students, as well as many undergraduate projects. He also served as a member of State boards, agencies, as an EU expert, and for various representative and consultative forums and trade organisations, both nationally and internationally.
Richard had a long association with AquaTT, back to its foundation in 1991, when he compiled and submitted the original application for EU funding to establish the company to co-ordinate training for aquaculture throughout the EU. He was the first chairman of the company and served on the board regularly over the past 20 years.
He published over 30 peer-reviewed papers and more than a hundred technical reports. He served as an external examiner at postgraduate level in Ireland and several EU countries.
Richard was an excellent researcher, a gifted and inspiring lecturer and extremely generous with his time, especially with students and colleagues.
A scholar, a gentleman and a wonderful character, he often stated that his head was in Cork but his heart was in Kerry.
In his youth and later in life, he was an avid stamp collector, enjoyed music, travel, cooking and was insatiably curious. Wanting to try the world of business, he ventured into seafood processing in the early 2000s, and was well known in the English Market in Cork and by many top restaurants throughout the country to whom he supplied high-end specialist fish products.
Richard passed away on December 5th, 2016, following a short illness at University Hospital, Galway.
He was the much-loved husband of Frances, brother of Gilbert and Bernard and brother-in-law of Carol and Mary. He is sadly missed by his stepsons John, Adam and Darragh, niece Hannah, nephew David and many friends.
He was a great scientist, friend, teacher, mentor, listener and talker, a man who always had time for you. All of these qualities were tempered with a great integrity, humanity and a powerful wit.