‘Gentleman’ business leader James O’Sullivan dies of cancer, 58

Tributes have been paid following the death of one of Cork’s most popular businessmen and charity campaigners after a long and brave battle against cancer.

James O’Sullivan, a director of the family business M&P O’Sullivan Ltd and a long-serving director of Cork Business Association (CBA), died yesterday surrounded by his family in Marymount Hospice, just weeks after his 58th birthday. He is survived by his wife Cathy and their children, Emma and Eoin.

Lord Mayor Des Cahill described him as a driving force behind the business and a great family man.

“James fought a very positive battle with his illness,” said Mr Cahill. “In recent times I had the pleasure of attending many functions with James and he certainly had a great attitude to live for the day.”

CBA chief executive Lawrence Owens said Mr O’Sullivan’s death is an incredible loss to his family, to the CBA, and the city. He described his friend of 30 years as “a pillar of the CBA, and an absolute gentleman, who was warm, caring, loyal, and good” who did a lot of his charity work “under the radar”.

“He fought this illness at every turn,” he said. “He adopted an incredibly positive attitude. But that was a testament to his character and to his love of life.”

Conor Healy, chief executive of Cork Chamber, hailed Mr O’Sullivan’s enormous contribution to the city.

“He was an example of all that is good in business,” said Mr Healy

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, who during his time as Enterprise Minster appointed Mr O’Sullivan as the first chairman of the Small Business Forum, said: “James has been at the heart of Cork business, social, and charity life for decades and his work in the community and voluntary sector has made a huge difference to the lives of thousands of people.”

Landmark Media CEO Tom Murphy described Mr O’Sullivan as a shrewd businessman with “a twinkle in his eye for devilment”.

Mr O’Sullivan was the third generation of his family involved in M&P O’Sullivan, founded by his grandfather in 1905. His son, Eoin, now works for the firm.

A former president of Carrigaline Lions Club, Mr O’Sullivan founded its charity cycle which has raised €500,000 over the years, and he helped raise €1m to build the town’s youth centre. He received the Melvin Jones Fellowship — one of the highest honours which can be bestowed on a serving Lion. He served on the audit committee of Cork City Council and as chairman of the Irish Grocers Benevolent Fund.

A keen sailor, Mr O’Sullivan was Rear Admiral in the Royal Cork Yacht Club, chairman of the RNLI Crosshaven, and he presented a business show on Cork Community Radio.

His remains will lie in repose at Temple Hill Funeral Home, Boreenmanna Road tomorrow, with removal at 7pm to the Church of Our Lady and St John in Carrigaline. He will be buried in St Patrick’s Cemetery, Crosshaven, after 2pm Requiem Mass on Friday.


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