Feargal Quinn remembered as man who ‘did things differently’

Mourners at Superquinn founder’s funeral hear of a ‘truly exceptional’ individual

 Feargal Quinn’s coffin is carried from the church by family members. Photograph Nick Bradshaw

Feargal Quinn’s coffin is carried from the church by family members. Photograph Nick Bradshaw

 

Businessman Feargal Quinn was remembered as a larger than life figure, who “did things differently”, at his funeral Mass on Saturday.

His sons and grandsons wore vibrant colourful ties to the service, synonymous with the Superquinn supermarket founder - taken from his own wardrobe.

Mr Quinn, also an independent senator for 23 years, died aged 82 on Wednesday. He is survived by his wife Denise, five children, and 19 grandchildren.

On a clear Saturday afternoon, mourners filled St Fintan’s Church, in Sutton, north Co Dublin for the service.

Image from Feargal Quinn’s funeral at St Fintan’s Church, Sutton. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
Image from Feargal Quinn’s funeral at St Fintan’s Church, Sutton. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
Image from Feargal Quinn’s funeral at St Fintan’s Church, Sutton. Photograph Nick Bradshaw
Image from Feargal Quinn’s funeral at St Fintan’s Church, Sutton. Photograph Nick Bradshaw

In attendance was President Michael D Higgins, a representative for Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Minister for Children Katherine Zappone, Senator Michael McDowell, and a host of other current and former politicians, business figures, and past colleagues of the “Superquinn family”.

Delivering the eulogy, his son Eamonn Quinn said his father was a man who “did things differently,” and that life was “never boring with Dad.”

He had a flair for practical jokes, and on one occasion called a neighbour impersonating the parish priest half an hour before Mass, and instructed him he would be required to do a reading in Irish.

He always “squeezed a lot into the day,” between work, family, and close friends, his son told those in attendance.

“I remember after working a 90-hour week on Christmas week, the busiest week of the year for the supermarket business, he turned around and grabbed his ten-year-old son, which was me at the time, and we went out to Sean McDermott Street to give away food hampers.

“It wasn’t demanded, it wasn’t for praise, and it wasn’t for religion, it was just what you did. That later became the Mansion House dinner on Christmas day,” he said.

“On Wednesday, the day we flew back from Portugal, he was in great form, talking about the grandchildren, and particularly Senan, the youngest member who is six months ... And a few hours later he passed away, and that was probably the best way he should go,” his son said.

Eamonn Quinn at St Fintan’s Church, Sutton. Photograph Nick Bradshaw
Eamonn Quinn at St Fintan’s Church, Sutton. Photograph Nick Bradshaw
President Michael D Higgins at the funeral. Photograph Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times
President Michael D Higgins at the funeral. Photograph Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

Vincent O’Doherty, former chairman of Superquinn, who worked with Mr Quinn for decades, paid tribute to his “genuine authenticity,” and connection to his customers and workers.

The innovative retailer made a point of knowing staff in his stores on a first name basis, Mr O’Doherty said. “All our lives in various ways, were enhanced by Feargal,” he said.

“To say the banal phrase ‘we will not see his like again’ is obvious, we won’t,” he said.

One of Mr Quinn’s granddaughters, Alexandra de Schonen, also spoke at the service, describing him as the “epitome of Irish hospitality”.

She spoke of fond memories playing in his garden, where Mr Quinn could “enchant” a host of the grandchildren, with an inside line to the “sweet fairy”.

Speaking afterwards, another granddaughter Emilie Quinn said the family had “been flooded with incredible memories from friends and strangers across the globe” in recent days.

He always treated people equally, “whether they were the CEO or the toilet cleaner,” she said.

At the start of the service, several of his 19 grandchildren placed candles by the altar. His long-time PA Anne O’Broin also read the first reading of the Mass.

Fr Liam Lacey described Mr Quinn as a man held in “great affection by all people,” and said it was “hard to find anybody who has a bad word to say about him”.

Fittingly, the coffin was carried from the church to the tune of Frank Sinatra’s My Way.