Paul Smithwick, a ‘true friend to Ireland’s heritage’, dies aged 76

Member of famous Kilkenny brewing family received an OBE for service to British-Irish relations

Paul Smithwick, a member of the famous Kilkenny brewing family, has died aged 76.

He was part of the ninth generation of the family associated with the brewery founded by John Smithwick in 1710. A former lawyer he was latterly the chairman of the Sullivan Brewing Company and a director of a number of companies in Northern Ireland.

In 2016, he was awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the New Year’s honours list for his service to British-Irish relations. He, along with the Duke of Abercorn, set up Bonds of Friendship which brings together members of An Garda Síochána, the PSNI, the army and the British army regiment the Irish Guards on an annual basis.

A hereditary Freeman of Kilkenny, he was also involved in the Mayo Peace Park, which opened in 2008. It remembers all those from the county who died in armed conflict, most notably those who died in the first World War.


Minister of State for the Office of Public Works Patrick O’Donovan said Mr Smithwick “was a passionate advocate when it came to his native city and county of Kilkenny.

“Paul once said that nothing gave him greater pleasure than to welcome people from all walks of life to his native city and Kilkenny Castle. He worked tirelessly to advance the good fortune of Kilkenny and played an instrumental role in bringing about the royal visit to the town in 2017.

“He was a true friend to Ireland’s heritage and frequently supported events at various historic properties, particularly at Kilkenny Castle where he attended the 50th anniversary celebrations in 2019 that marked the official handover of the castle to the OPW. He is fondly remembered there as well as in Farmleigh, where he visited regularly. Paul’s final heritage battle right up to last week saw him join with his friend Lord Iveagh to save the Iveagh Markets.

“Paul Smithwick will be missed, a charismatic, courteous and mannerly man with a wonderful ability to connect with people, a great affinity for Irish heritage and a love of music,” Mr O’Donovan said.

Mr Smithwick died on Thursday , with his family by his bedside, following a short illness. He is survived by his children Emma, Daniel, Georgie. A further two children Edmond and Richard pre-deceased him.

His funeral service is to take place at St Mary’s Cathedral, Kilkenny, at 1pm on Sunday.

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist