The death has taken place of former ‘Beef Baron’ Hugh Tunney at the age of 83. Although a native of Trillick in Co Tyrone, he had strong Donegal connections. He spent some of his formative education at De La Salle in Ballyshannon and was later owner of the Central Hotel in Bundoran.
Mr Tunney made his money in beef and was described as Ireland’s first ’Beef Baron’, before Larry Goodman appeared on the scene. He had meat plants in Enniskillen and Clones and was a major employer in the region.
He later diversified into hotels and at one stage, owned the Gresham Hotel and Sach’s Hotel in Dublin, the Talbot Hotel in Wexford and the Central Hotel in Bundoran.
He lived in Clones, Dublin and in later years, Mullaghmore in North Sligo. His relationship with the Mountbatten estate in Mullaghmore began in 1976 when he leased Classieibawn Castle and its surrounding lands. Tunney Estates later took full ownership in the property. As owner of Classiebawn Castle, he came embroiled in a number of controversies associated with the home of Lord Louis Mountbatten, killed in a bomb by the IRA in 1979.
In one case, he failed in a bid to evict the former butler of Mountbatten’s from a house belonging to the estate. The butler had continued to work for Hugh Tunney, the new owner of the estate, until June 1987.
In another legal case, a 51-year-old Sligo man successfully claimed legal ownership of a portion of land on the former Mountbatten estate - amounting to a third of an acre. There was also issues over the cutting of trees on the estate that irked some locals.
Veteran politician, Cllr Sean McEniff, who knew Mr Tunney well told the Democrat: “He was a good friend of mine and a good friend of Bundoran, where he lived for many years. His family had a butchery here. I would describe him as a clever man, who was in the right place at the right time. He worked hard all his life and got the rewards he deserved. Of course, he later became the owner of Classiebawn which was a great coup. On a personal level, he will be missed by many as will his business acumen which was an huge asset to this country. He was also a private man.”
Mr Tunney’s remains remains arrived last evening to St. Macartan’s Church, Trillick, with Requiem Mass this morning (Thursday) at 11am. Interment will follow afterwards at Magheralough Cemetery.