I’m here on behalf of the PPU Committee to introduce this year’s recipient of our “Hall of Fame” Award.
The Hall of Fame is an opportunity to recognise exceptional contribution to public and / or community service, industry and / or the school. Previous recipients include Harry Boland, Charlie Haughey, John Teeling, Kevin Heffernan, Christy Oonan, Tony Hanahoe and Fr. Finbar Neylon.
It is especially gratifying to see this year’s award being made to fellow 1966 Leaving Cert. graduate, Brendan McGrath.
Brendan is here tonight with brothers Eamonn, Gerard and Michael (all went to Joeys), brothers in law, Mickey Whelan, President of St. Vincent’s GAA Club, Tony Diamond (also Vincent’s) plus business partners.
Originally from Brookwood Road in Artane, I remember Brendan from the time I joined Joeys from Marino back in 1961. But Brendan had been in Joeys from primary. He’s in a number of school photos in our slideshow (including scholarship winners for 1961). Interestingly, when responding to the offer of the “Hall of Fame” award, he mentioned that he never actually got that Scholarship. So, I hope this award is some small compensation!
Brendan represented the school in hurling, football and athletics. In athletics, he won the Canon Connor Cup 3 years in a row and gold in Primary Schools Athletics in Croke Park. He played for Joeys in Dublin school championship winning Hurling and Football teams from under 11 to 19 plus a Leinster Senior Hurling cup in 1964 (with brother, Mick).
He played for Vincent’s from juvenile through to minor, intermediate and junior, winning championship medals along the way. In his own words, he loved every minute, hour and day of it. His dad Mick, coached juvenile teams at the club. Brendan became involved with club administration from the age of 23. He later distinguished himself as club chairman for 9 years, overseeing introduction of many improvements in facilities (including sponsorship and employment of full time coaching staff).
Brendan started his work career in 1966 as a management trainee with Smurfit Group. He attended College of Commerce in Rathmines, then the IMI and European Management Institute. In 1969 he joined Nokia Ireland and in 1987 was appointed Marketing and Development Director.
He founded Tara Tissues in 1991 and developed it to a position where it employed 100 people. In 2004 Brendan, with Barry Gavin and brother, Eamonn, formed Gaelectric as a renewable wind energy developer operating in Ireland, UK and USA. He stepped down as CEO in October 2016 by which time the company had grown to a diverse renewable energy company with wind, solar, bio energy, Energy Storage and other capabilities.
Today, he continues his involvement in Gaelectric and has extended his interests into several business start-ups.
I’m sure you’ll all agree that this is an impressive career for a local lad, who started in Joeys and worked his way into leadership positions. The path he took demonstrates that, although all would like to see as many as possible going to 3rd level directly after Leaving Cert., there are many routes from student to a successful adult life. When you think about it, the most important ingredients are drive, hard work, interested parents and a supportive school environment.
Brendan’s story clearly shows how the broader school community of teachers, parents and past pupils can, indeed, play a big part in helping to “unlock student potential”.
Ladies and gentlemen, please put your hands together for a Joey’s man who has added great value to his own community and Ireland Inc. – one of life’s true gentlemen and recipient of this year’s Hall of Fame Award, Brendan McGrath!
(PPU Dinner Speech by David Rafferty, PPU Hon. Secretary, February 2017)