For the Irish especially, Father’s Day is often a time of calling home rather than popping by for a visit.  We are a nation of interminable wanderers – over one million Irish-born live abroad, and we have a global diaspora of between 60-80 million people claiming Irish ancestry.

This year however is different.  Unless you happen to be within a 20km radius, sons and daughters visiting parents or vice versa is an impossibility.  This Sunday will be a day of phone calls, WhatsApp conversations, and Zoom meetings.

So much of Irish hospitality is built on families, so we put a call out on Twitter to find some multigenerational businesses handed down from father to son and daughter.  Here’s a snapshot of what we received.

David Chawke, The Bank Bar on College Green, Dublin

Arguably the best known publican in the country, Charlie Chawke has built an empire with a food-forward focus.  Nowhere is this more apparent than The Bank Bar on College Green.  We spoke to his son, David.

Did you always want to, or think you were going to, follow your dad into business?

“I didn’t always think I’d go into the bar business as I used to think I’d never be as good as my dad – and you know what I was right. I realised when we worked together that no one was and that’s ok.

There will only be one of him and no one I’ve seen in our industry has his vision or his work ethic.  We disagree on things but there is no one else’s opinion or advice I’d value as much as I value his.

He never looks back, no matter what issue arises he is always positive about our business, he believes and invests in people.”

What’s the best advice your dad has ever given you?

“There’s two ways of making money:

  1. Work your arse off 
  2. Win the lotto”

Dec MacManus, King Sitric, Howth

Aidan MacManus opened The King Sitric in 1971 with a commitment to source and serve the best of fish and shellfish that Ireland has to offer. It is his passion and commitment that drove The King Sitric to an international reputation for excellent seafood. We spoke to his son, Dec.

Did you always want to, or think you were going to, follow your dad into business?

“As a kid I spent a lot of time with my dad in the kitchen, it was a proper old school kitchen. It was hot, loud and scary after 6pm. This should have given me enough sense to run but there is something so amazing about being in the middle of such organised chaos. When I finished school I never trained or went to college but when I came back to the business at 26 to open East Cafe Bar I realised he had subtly given me the best education I could ever have had.”

What’s the best business advice your dad has ever given you?

“Not to be afraid of change and never stop tweaking every part of the business constantly, The King Sitric is nearly 50 years old and within that time it has grown and changed constantly to adapt to new ways of dining… and keep pints of Guinness cheap!”

Seán Kelly, Kelly’s Butchers, Newport, Co. Mayo

Kelly’s Butchers is a family business founded more than 80 years ago by Dominic Kelly, whose name still stands over the door. His sons Seán and Seamus Kelly took over, developing the business to become nationally known. A third generation, Kenneth & Cormac, have also become involved. We spoke to Seán.

Did you always want to, or think you were going to, follow your dad into business?

“Yes I did. From the age of 5 or 6 I was always with him in the shop when I could be. You could say that was the beginning of my apprenticeship. I’ve worked full time in Kelly’s Butchers since I was about 18. Now my two sons Kenneth and Cormac work with me – the next generation of Kelly’s Butchers.”

What’s the best advice your dad has ever given you?

“He always told me to “stick to what you know” and I’ve taken that advice very seriously. We still specialise in puddings and sausages, using his time honoured recipes; we don’t meddle with them. We have developed the business and we’re a much bigger company now, but we still stick to the basics. I’d add another line myself:  “but you don’t know it all and you’re learning all the time”.”

Kate McLoughlin, McLoughlin Butchers, Dublin

McLoughlins Craft Butchers is a third generation family business, operating in Dublin since 1965 and run by father and daughter team, Pat and Kate McLoughlin. Their main business is the supply of beef, lamb, pork and cooked meats to Dublin’s finest restaurants and hotels, including Guilbaud’s and Coppinger Row. We spoke to Kate.

Did you always want to, or think you were going to, follow your dad into business?

“No not at all – That was never the plan!  Dad always encouraged me to be self-employed in my own right. I first joined after returning home from abroad to get experience in running a food business.”

What’s the best advice your dad has ever given you?

“Life wasn’t meant to be easy – you have to work hard for things that are worthwhile.”

More family businesses around the country

We had an incredible response to our request and far more replies than we could ever fit into this article.  Here’s a snapshot of some of the other father-son/daughter businesses who got in touch.

  • Gleesons Townhouse – Husband and wife team, Eamonn and Mary Gleeson, have run Gleeson’s Townhouse since 1991 when they made significant cahnges to their 19th century home. They recently handed over the business to their daughter, Cait.
  • The Smugglers Inn – Originally a farmhouse, the building was restored by the Hunt family in 1980 and converted into boutique accommodation. Now in the hands of Harry’s son Henry Hunt.
  • Jim Edwards of Kinsale – 50 years in businesses, passed onto his son Liam.
  • Higgins Family Butchers – Higgins Butchers was established in 1880, and since then has grown to become Ireland’s leading distributor of premium quality meat.
  • Melletts Emporium – one of the oldest bars in Ireland.  A seventh generation business, currently in the process of the handover from father to daughter.
  • Currarevagh House Hotel – Ireland’s longest running accommodation business still in the same family, currently overseen by Henry Hodgson and his wife.
  • M Cosgrove & Son – one of Sligo’s oldest shops, in the third generation hands of Michael Cosgrove.
  • Morgan Wine Merchants – with a history dating back to 1825, the name was revived in 1996 by Tom Keaveney.  More recently, Tom handed down the business to his son Andrew.
  • Nancy’s Bar Ardara – The Mc Hugh family have owned Nancy’s for over seven generations, and the business is currently in the hands of eldest son and head chef Daniel.
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