BY JACKIE KEOGH
PEOPLE from all over West Cork will have the opportunity to pay their final respects to Bernard McNicholas – the former owner of the London-based company McNicholas Engineering – when he is laid to rest in Kilfaughnabeg Cemetery in Glandore on Monday.
Hundreds of people are expected to attend requiem mass in St Mary’s Parish Church in Leap at 11am on Monday, March 30th and to sympathise with his family, all of whom are well known in the area, and well liked.
The cemetery is but a stone’s throw from the Mayo man’s adopted home. After spending some years visiting his holiday home at Drombridge House in Leap, Bernard McNicholas (74) purchased Kilfinnan Castle in Glandore and turned what was a dilapidated ruin into a beautiful landmark.
The romance of buying and restoring a castle was mirrored by the fact that his first wife, Patricia, who sadly passed away after an illness, originally came from Clounties in Leap, and still has a lot of family living in the area.
One of his closest friends in West Cork, Charlie McCarthy of Skibbereen, told The Southern Star that he first met Bernard more than 30 years ago when he came to holiday here.
‘He loved the place. He got great enjoyment out of it, as did his family – his son Séan and his daughters Siobhan, Fiona and Lucy – so it is understandable that he should want to be laid to rest here.
‘In later years, his loving wife Pauline – who comes from Hospital in Co Limerick and was a great source of strength to Bernard – shared his passion for West Cork,’ said Charlie.
Bernard McNicholas was highly regarded in the community and, as a mark of respect, was invited to become a patron for life of Skibbereen and West Carbery Golf Club.
A book of condolences will be opened in his honour at the clubhouse.
He supported a huge number of causes in the locality, but it is perhaps as founder and chairperson of the Children’s’ Welfare Research Foundation – a charity that raises millions of pounds for Our Lady’s Hospital in Crumlin in Dublin, Great Ormond Street in London, and children around the world – that he will be best remembered.
Charlie described his friend, who died on Sunday, as ‘a great outgoing person. He had a word for everybody. He was always in good form. He was a most genial man.’
Bernard McNicholas was an amazing man in many respects.
He took over his father’s firm when he was just 21 and built it from about 50 employees to over 2,000.
The company was recording an annual turnover of £200m before it was sold to Skanska in a multi-million pound deal in December 2006.
Bernard McNicholas won the AIB Businessman of the Year in 1994; received a papal knighthood (KSG) in 1999; and an honorary doctorate from Galway University in 2005 in recognition of his philanthropic work.
Quoted in The Irish Post, his wife, Pauline, said: ‘Bernard’s presence was enormous and his loss is a dreadful void for our family.
‘Nobody will ever fill that void, but Bernard leaves a huge legacy behind him in his construction and his charity work over many years.’