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Paul Smithwick, class '64, KM, OBE.

Where are they now

Dec 31, 2016
Paul Smithwick, class '64, KM, OBE. -

L-R British Ambassador to Ireland, Robin Barnett and Paul Smithwick, K.M., O.B.E.

Congratulations to Paul Smithwick, class '64, K.M., who was awarded an O.B.E. in the New Years Honour list.

Paul was one of four brothers from the Kilkenny brewing family who attended Knock. His elder brother is Peter, class '54. of tribunal fame and retired president of the District Court and his brothers either side of him, both now sadly deceased, were Michael, class '57 who died 31 August 2013 in Reidsville, North Carolina and John, class '67 who died 31 August 2002 in Kilkenny.

The family connection with Knock ran even deeper for their father Walter, was a friend of the benefactor behind the Samuel Rubin Foundation and made it his business to ensure that a long line of past men availed of this foundation's scholarship program to complete their post-graduate studies in America.

Brewing is in the blood but after College it was to the law that Paul initially turned to. He was admitted a solicitor in 1970 and by 1972 was a partner in the Dublin firm of T. G. McVeagh & Co. where he stayed for four years before opening a practice of his own, Smithwick & Co. in South Frederick Street, Dublin. In March 2007 Paul announced “he would be delighted to never have to see the inside of another courtroom” and duly retired as a commercial solicitor, but that only heralded an even more active return to corporate and philanthropic interests.

Paul and Peter were the ninth generation of the family associated with the famous Smithwick's brewery, and the last as their father sold to Guinness in 1965. However it wasn't to be the end of their brewing story for in 2013 when Diageo ceased brewing Smithwick's in Kilkenny, the Smithwick and Sullivan families came together to resuscitate the Sullivan's Brewing Company, which was perhaps the only Irish brewer of ale that was older than Smithwick's itself. Paul is Chairman of this new fast growing concern.

He has served as chairman and director of several other companies in the private, public and state sector including Unicorn Mineral Resources, Ovoca Resources, Grosvenor Waste Management, Coillte, and Balcas Timber Company.

On the philanthropic front, he was chairman of the chamber music board of Camerata Ireland, which runs the Barry Douglas Orchestra; involved with the Mayo Peace Park; and along with the Duke of Abercorn, set up Bonds of Friendship which aims to bring together members of An Garda Síochána, the PSNI, the Irish Army and the British army regiment the Irish Guards on a social basis, with a view to promoting the peace process.

To mark the awarding of the O.B.E. a black tie dinner was held at the Smithwick brewery visitor centre in Kilkenny, hosted by Paul's brother Judge Peter Smithwick, with the British Ambassador to Ireland, Robin Barnett as guest of honour. Ambassador Barnett commented:

It is a genuine privilege to attend the first dinner to be held at Smithwick's Brewery since the great Daniel O’Connell was guest of honour in 1840. I feel a real sense of history.

I would also like to congratulate Paul Smithwick most warmly on receiving a well deserved honour from Her Majesty the Queen for his services to the bilateral relationship between Ireland and the UK.

He could have added that this is the latest in a long time of honours, for in 1975 Paul was conferred with the Hereditary Freedom of the City of Kilkenny and in 1976 was invested as a Knight of Malta. Paul on the night also revealed plans in the offing for a 2017 visit to Kilkenny by Prince Charles, and perhaps through Paul's good offices, we might see Charles extending that itinerary to include a visit to Castleknock College, for it's nigh on 117 years since the last such visit, that of his 3rd great-grandmother, Queen Victoria.

When not doing all this good work, Paul can be found doing a spot of fishing on the Slaney and shooting wherever good game is to be had. He holds honorary life membership of the K Club but these days more often than not is found playing his golf at Mount Juillet. He still retains an interest in squash but understandably his days of pounding the courts of the Kildare St. University Club are now behind him.

Paul's three children are immensely proud of him as he is of them: Emma is a TV scripter and producer in London; Daniel, a chartered accountant and director of Sullivan's Brewing Company; and Georgina is a senior executive with Diageo in London. So two in the brewing industry and one to tell the tale about it.

The Union salutes Paul Smithwick, class '64, K.M., O.B.E..