'The best president Ireland never had': Tributes paid after Superquinn founder Feargal Quinn dies

Superquinn founder and politician Feargal Quinn has died, aged 82.

He passed away peacefully at his home in Howth, Co Dublin, after a short illness.

Mr Quinn established the Superquinn chain of supermarkets in 1960 and served as a Senator from 1993 to 2016.

The former Senator is survived by his wife Denise, their five children, and 19 grandchildren.

In a statement, the Quinn family said: "First and foremost Feargal was a loving and caring husband, father, grandfather, and brother.

"To everyone else who knew him, he was an ebullient businessman, entrepreneur, innovator and former Senator."

Superquinn was sold to the Musgrave Group in 2011, who rebranded the remaining stores as SuperValu in 2014.

Mr Quinn also presented the RTÉ TV series 'Feargal Quinn's Retail Therapy'.

Paying tribute, President Michael D Higgins described Mr Quinn as a "gifted entrepreneur" who will be missed.

"Feargal was a gifted entrepreneur, whose vision of customer service and innovation transformed the landscape of the retail trade in Ireland over many decades. As a lifelong supporter of small businesses and start-up companies, countless numbers of people benefited from his wise counsel, which was based on a highly successful career at the coalface of Irish business."

"He will be deeply missed not just by his family and wide circle of friends, but also by those who served in the Seanad with him, where he will be remembered as a force for change, as a passionate advocate on business and related matters, and as an eloquent debater.

"He was renowned for his courteous contributions and responses to both supporters and opponents.

"Sabina and I would like to extend my condolences to his wife Denise, to his children and grandchildren, and to his many friends."

“It’s a really sad day for the nation and for his family,” said Minister for Transport Shane Ross on RTÉ Radio.

“This man was an icon. I’ve always described him as ‘The best president Ireland never had’.

“Despite his great wealth and incredible success he related to everybody. Customers and staff loved him. He was so absolutely genuine in his beliefs.

“He was a cut above all of us politicians. He got on with his job, he didn’t get involved in spats.

“He was never flash just generous, he was a superb listener, something very special.

“He was one of the great marketers, he found out what the customers and what staff were thinking.

“He was a very genuine and easy person to deal with. His word was his bond.”

Mr Quinn was presented with the Philanthropist of the Year Award earlier this year in recognition of his charity work.

Former Tánaiste Michael McDowell said: “People shouldn’t consider that niceness made him a fluffy person, he was very strong.

“He made it his business to know his staff and to know his customers.

“He didn’t take his Senate salary, he donated it to charity.

“While he was recognised as someone who was kind and gentle in his dealings with people, he was very firm in his opinions.

“He was conservative in his moral outlook, but not in his ambitions for Ireland.

“He was the consummate gentleman. All who had dealings with him will remember him for his kindness and ability.”

Businessman Ben Dunne said: “Fergal Quinn made a difference, he brought in a thing called customer service.

“He had an ability to sell cheap because he was a good retailer. He made sure everything was right for the customer.

“He was kind, but he was also ruthless. He was nobody’s fool. He kept that family feeling in business.

“He came from humble beginnings, he went from nowhere to matching the big operators.

“He was very competitive on price and was very fair to the people who worked for him.

“He was a great businessman and a great Irishman.”

The CEO of Musgrave Group, Chris Martin, said he was "saddened" to hear the news of Mr Quinn's passing.

"As the founder of Superquinn, Feargal was a visionary in Irish food and a retail pioneer. Beyond the world of retail, Feargal made a significant and lasting contribution to Irish society and to political life as a member of Seanad Eireann.

"He was a leader who will be deeply missed. Feargal was also a good friend to Musgrave and on behalf of everyone here, I would like to share our condolences with his family, friends and colleagues at this difficult time."

An Post Chairman, Dermot Divilly, said: “We are very saddened by the death of Feargal Quinn, the first Chairman of An Post.

“He worked tirelessly over a decade from 1979 to set the postal service and post office network on a sound, forward-looking, modern footing.

“He showed exemplary dedication and vision during these formative years and he remained a loyal supporter of An Post throughout his life.

“He is remembered with the greatest respect and fondness. Our sincere sympathy to Denise and all his family. May he rest in peace”.

Labour’s Seanad Leader Ivana Bacik expressed her sympathy to the Quinn family.

“Feargal Quinn was always a well regarded and courteous colleague to all of his fellow senators,” Ms Bacik said.

“As a senator for the NUI panel, he represented his constituents in exemplary fashion, and as a fellow University senator, it was a pleasure to work alongside him as I did from 2007 until his retirement in 2016.

“I am sure that Feargal’s legacy as a successful businessperson and diligent politician will be a source of great pride for his family for years to come.”

Opposition leader Micheal Martin said he was sad to learn of Mr Quinn’s death.

“His achievements in business and in the Seanad were significant and are well known, but what set him apart was his personal warmth and great integrity,” he wrote on Twitter.

“We have lost a true gentleman with his passing.”

Mr Quinn was trending on Twitter for most of the day as thousands of people paid tribute to him and shared their memories of working for and with him throughout his long career.

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