Owen O’Callaghan’s greatest legacy was his generosity, mourners hear

Late property developer was man of integrity and his family have lost treasure, says priest

Property developer Owen O'Callaghan left a footprint across Ireland with the shopping centres he built, but his greatest legacy was the generosity he showed to his family, friends and others, his funeral Mass was told.

Fr Pat O'Mahony said that while newspapers had noted Mr O'Callaghan's impact on Cork and elsewhere in Ireland, his legacy and his loss would be most felt by his wife Shelagh, their children Brian and Zelda and their extended family.

Quoting from A Psalm of Life by WH Longfellow, Fr O'Mahony said the poem captured well Mr O'Callaghan's impact, as he reminded mourners that "Lives of great men all remind us/we can make our lives sublime/and departing leave behind us/footprints on the sands of time".

Fr O’Mahony said Mr O’Callaghan, who died on Monday, was a well-known figure, but ultimately a very private man. This was never more evident than in the discreet way he helped charitable organisations, he said.


“He was a man of huge integrity, a man of his word and a family man, and while the papers were saying that we have lost a national treasure and Cork city has lost a champion, it is his family who have lost the treasure that he was,” Fr O’Mahony said.

‘True gent’

“Above all, we will never forget that glint in his eye and his all-embracing, inclusive charm for all those that he met. He was a true gent, impeccably dressed, turned out by Shelagh; he will be sorely missed by Shelagh and the family, but also by all of us who have known him.”

Following the requiem Mass at St Patrick's Church in Rochestown, where he was a regular massgoer, Mr O'Callaghan was buried in St Mary & St John Churchyard Cemetery in his native Ballincollig.

Among those who attended the funeral were Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Des Cahill, Cork City Council chief executive Ann Doherty, and the council's deputy chief executive Pat Ledwidge.

Former public relations practitioner and lobbyist Frank Dunlop, who told the Mahon tribunal that Mr O'Callaghan was unaware that he paid councillors in Dublin to back the rezoning of a planned shopping centre being developed by Mr O'Callaghan at Quarryvale, was also present.

Church of Ireland Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, Rev Paul Colton; former Irish rugby international Tom Kiernan; Fianna Fáil TD Michael McGrath; former Fianna Fáil TD Barry Cogan; Cork Airport managing director Niall McCarthy; and Millstreet entrepreneur Noel C Duggan were also among the congregation.

Cork Chamber president Barrie O'Connell; Cork Business Association president Pat O'Connell; developer Michael O'Flynn; Bam Construction managing director Theo Cullinane; and Tom Crosbie and Tom Murphy of Landmark Media, which owns the Irish Examiner, were in attendance.

Among the many mourners who attended Mr O'Callaghan's removal on Tuesday were Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin; Fianna Fáil TD Billy Kelleher, former Fianna Fáil TDs Batt O'Keeffe, Noel O'Flynn and Dan Wallace; former Fine Gael TD Jim Corr; and former Fine Gael senator Dino Cregan.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times