An Appreciation Paddy Falloon

 

I first met Paddy Falloon in 1974 shortly after he had bought Millicent, the fine Palladian mansion on the banks of the Liffey in Co Kildare. He was the youngest of four children, born in 1911 on a farm in Co Armagh close to the Louth border within sight of Slieve Gullion and the Forkhill Mountains. His background was in the Church of Ireland tradition and his family could be traced to Co Meath in pre-Cromwellian days and earlier to pre-Norman times.

When he bought Millicent the house was virtually derelict but within a year or two he had restored it to its original grandeur. It was one of several restorations he had undertaken during his long and productive life - the Crawfordsburn Inn and village in Co Down, the Dunadry Inn in Co Antrim, Cloncarneel and its estate in Co Meath, his last residence in the Republic, Lansdown Lodge, at Luggacurran in Co Laois, and the Bell House at Great Milton, Oxford where he finally moved on the occasion of his 90th birthday. His genius for restoration was rewarded by the Royal Society of Ulster Architects by his election to its honorary fellowship.

Paddy was a co-founder of Ulster Television, a director of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and for some time the owner of Northern Brick. His many employees in the brick industry were hired for their skills and their commitment to the job, and not for any other consideration. He was a member of the Ulster Countryside Commission and was active in cultural, social and environmental affairs in the North. He was widely known, particularly after he had taken a prominent part in UTV chat shows in the early days of television when his wit, his eclectic interests, his critical mind and his outspoken views must have had a refreshing effect on a conservative society. He travelled extensively, particularly as a young man, spending two years in South Africa and some time in England where he established one of the first petrol stations in the 1920s. His energetic and restless spirit drove him from one constructive endeavour to the next until his final retirement to Oxford.

While Paddy was not vain enough to seek special attention, he invariably became the centre of attraction on social occasions because of his gregarious and buoyant personality, his charm, his wit and his extraordinary fund of stories and reminiscences. No man was ever happier in the company of others, whether old or new friends, and no man was more hospitable than he in the comfort and warmth of Millicent, and with the support of his wife Jane.

Paddy Falloon was a man of great passion - in his loves, his family, his conversation, his numerous friends, his relentless life spent in improving the world, his horror of violence, war and the divisive effects of religion. His was a quiet spirituality rather than a dedication to formal religion. He despaired about our neglect of planet Earth and the threat to future generations through the exponential increase in the human population, and through greed and the lust for things we want but do not need. Above all, he loved Ireland. He was the most patriotic man I have ever had the good fortune to meet. His patriotism transcended all political considerations, including the border between North and South. Instead, it was deeply rooted in the Irish countryside, in the culture and traditions of the old Celtic nation, and in the Christian virtues which were inherent in the spirit of the old country.

His loss to Jane, his family, and his host of friends will be deeply felt, but we are all left with happy and enduring memories of his love and his great contribution to the island of Ireland and to understanding between its diverse people.

R.M.