Death of plant-hire business founder William O’Brien

The death has occurred of William O’Brien, whose successful plant hire business was established in Cork in the 1950s.

Aged 89, the Kerry-born entrepreneur passed away in the Bon Secours hospital on Saturday night after what is believed to have been a short illness.

From purchasing his own truck and JCB for laying gravel in the 1950s, to involvement in the recently-completed revamp of Cork GAA’s Páirc Uí Chaoimh, the William O’Brien name has grown into an international business, with depots in London, Scotland, and France.

As famous for its branding as for its commercial success, his firm’s yellow equipment stood out as it travelled the roads of Ireland, emblazoned with slogans such as “Don’t risk it, let O’Brien lift it”.

“We’ve lost a legend after William’s sad passing,” said his friend, Cork auctioneer Dominic Daly.

Under Mr O’Brien’s stewardship, the group has also been involved in waste disposal, concrete pumping, and plastic pipe manufacture during its six decades in existence. The William O’Brien Group today includes companies that offer services in the areas of self-storage, and wind turbine construction and repair.

The crane hire firm was bought by William O’Brien Junior a decade ago, as the founder approached his 80s. William O’Brien Senior’s wife Mary died in September 2011, on the couple’s 56th wedding anniversary. The couple have six children, Monica, Maureen, Patricia, Sheila, William, and Anthony

Earlier this year, in an advertisement placed in the Irish Examiner, Mr O’Brien reminded people to be grateful that we live in a beautiful and relatively peaceful part of the world with many high-standard public services and amenities, despite the many problems in health and other areas.

Mr O’Brien will be reposing at Sullivan’s Funeral Home, Turner’s Cross, tomorrow from 5pm, followed by removal at 7pm to the Church of the Descent of the Holy Spirit, Dennehy’s Cross.

Requiem Mass will be on Wednesday at 11am, with the funeral to follow afterwards to St Oliver’s Cemetery.


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