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Community mourns the passing of 'Buddy' Kiernan

Story by Tom Kelly

Thursday, 20th May, 2010 5:00pm

Community mourns the passing of 'Buddy' Kiernan

The late Patrick "Buddy" Kiernan.

The death of Patrick "Buddy" Kiernan, Aughakilmore, Kilnaleck, following a short illness at the Mater Private Hospital on Wednesday last, removes from the scene one of the biggest pig producers in the EU. He was very much involved in the agri-business throughout his life and was also proprietor of the Kiernan Milling company in Granard, Co Longford.

Many compliments have been paid to the late Mr. Kiernan for his contribution to areas such as politics, business and sport.

The 79-year-old farmer and founder of the Kiernan (Family) Group was born and educated in New York but his parents moved back to Ballinamore when he was 14 and he continued his education at Newbridge College, Co Kildare. In the early 50s, he purchased a public house and grocery shop in Aughakilmore, Ballymachugh, before moving in to pig farming. He later founded the Kilnaleck company that produces 330,000 finished pigs every year and who currently has pig farm units in Cavan, Longford, Westmeath, Sligo and Tipperary.

He was also the sole owner of HKM Milling (now Kiernan Milling) an animal feed mill in Granard, Co. Longford, that produces more than 175,000 tonnes every year, and is one of the country's largest milling operations. It was originally known as HKM (Hanley, Kiernan and Maguire).

Like many of the successful rural businessmen throughout the country, Kiernan also had a punt at radio licences and was a chief shareholder in Shannonside/Northern Sound up until its sale in 2005 to the Radio Kerry Group.

Involvement in politics

Aside from his business interests in farming and pig production, Mr. Kiernan was deeply involved in politics nationally and locally. He was a former chairman of Cavan County Council after being first elected in 1967 and was an active Fine Gael fundraiser. Until recently, he was chairman of Fine Gael Trustees. He resigned, however, after the emergence of the controversial $50,000 donation to Fine Gael linked to Esat/Telenor, which occurred during his tenure. Although Mr. Kiernan always insisted he believed there had been no wrongdoing involved.He also served on various committees within the Fine Gael party's organisation in Co. Cavan. His opinions were always sought after and highly regarded and was a close associate of former Leitrim TD, Pat Joe Reynolds; former Taoiseach, John Bruton; Paddy Cooney; Tom Fitzpatrick and Peter Barry.After giving up his seat on the County Council in 1985, Buddy went into milling, setting up HKM Milling in Granard and contributed greatly to the economies of both Cavan and Longford.

Major sports sponsor

He also took a keen interest in sport and was closely involved with Ballymachugh GFC and held a number of positions over the years including honorary vice-president. During his playing career, he was a member of Sean O'Heslin's, Ballinamore during the 50s where he played at centre-half back. At that time the club was called Ballinamore. His brother-in-law Brian 'Sonny' Sweeney also played on that Ballinamore team. His performances gained him a place on the Leitrim junior football team.

He also played with Mullahoran for a spell. He rarely missed a game whether it was club or county and had a special regard for young talent whether it was gaelic football or athletics.Mr. Kiernan was a major sponsor during the athletics career of Catherina McKiernan, and travelled to many venues throughout the world, including the world cross-country championships to see her fulfil her early promise by winning a number of silver medals at this annual event.

He also used his wealth to support a diversity of causes, including contributing £50,000 to a Catscan machine for Cavan General Hospital after he was treated there.

Fine Gael Leader's tribute

The leader of Fine Gael Enda Kenny, in a tribute, said Mr. Kiernan was a man of deep principles and conviction.

Former Taoiseach and Fine Gael Leader John Bruton expressed his sadness at the death of Mr. Kiernan stating that the lifelong Fine Gael supporter was a man of great energy and integrity, particularly as a member of and subsequently chairman of the Trustees of Fine Gael.

He is survived by his wife Teedie; eight sons, Paraic, Brendan, Briney, Antone, John, Kevin, Donough and Mark; four daughters, Marion, Breda Cullivan, Noeleen Brady and Patricia Donohoe and his sister, Mayjo in the US.The removal of the remains took place from his home on Thursday evening to St. Mary's Church, Ballinarry. There was a guard of honour of prominent members of Fine Gael among them former party leader John Bruton; Deputy Seymour Crawford, Mayo TD, Bernard Durkin; Senator Joe O'Reilly; chairman of Cavan County Council, Winston Bennett; chairman of Cavan Town Council, Andrew Boylan and county councillors Paddy O'Reilly, Dessie Boylan and Aidan Boyle; players from Ballymachugh GFC including seniors, underage, ladies and local schoolchildren.

St. Mary's Church Ballinarry was filled to capacity with many more standing outside, to pay their last respects at the funeral which took place on Friday to the adjoining cemetery.

The attendance included many politicians from the various parties, members of the agricultural community, well-known businessman Sean Quinn, as well as representatives from the GAA. Former Cavan Co Board GAA Chairman, Peter Brady, who, for many years was a close associate of Mr Kiernan paid his tribute during the church service.

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