Brian Britton - a man for all seasons

A look back on the life of popular Donegal man

Matt Britton


Matt Britton


Brian Britton

The late Brian Britton

The sad passing of Brian Britton in the early hours of Tuesday morning has evoked a lot of great memories in so many different sectors of Irish society.
Brian was many different things to so many different people - here at home he was a man of the water, a legendary surfer, an hotelier but most importantly a great family man - a husband, a father, indeed a grandfather, a brother, a cousin and a friend to many.
In business circles he was known to be very astute, a man of great vision and a man who could make things happen.
A son of Mary and Vinny Britton, Brian grew up on Rossnowlagh Beach in the Sandhouse Hotel with his four brothers. In recent times he often joked, “As kids we were homeless for half the year. We stayed in the hotel during the off season but in the summer, I’m afraid we just had to get out. It didn't matter that much as we spent most of our time on the beach.”
The Rossnowlagh man received his secondary education at Gormanston College and later went to Trinity College where he obtained his Business Studies degree.
Brian had a sharp brain and he was soon to join Stokes, Kennedy, Crowley now known as KPMG where he rose to a senior management position.
Keen to get involved in the business world he joined Greenore Ferries for quite some time and later joined the Goodman Meat empire where he rose to the position of Deputy Managing Director.
Deep down Brian was a man of innovation and had a hunger to develop some of Ireland’s own natural resources.

Brian with his family recently, pictured are, Naomi, Neil and John.

He often spoke of the “Wild Western Seaboard” many years ago and in recent times his vision has been realised in the creation of the Wild Atlantic Way.
He also realised the massive potential of offshore wind energy sector and as Managing Director of Oriel Windfarm Limited, he had been to the forefront in developing the offshore wind energy sector in Ireland.
He had managed the project from inception, including raising investment capital and the regulatory approval process and just prior to his untimely passing was on the cusp of realising his vision and dream.
After his parents retired from the Sandhouse, Brian took over the hotel but being a realist he knew that he had not got the time it deserved and he would have been the first to admit that he was not a hotelier.
Paul Diver who later purchased the hotel said, “Brian was a gentleman to deal with and indeed he preserved the legacy of the hotel that his parents had established. People often compliment me about the hotel but my aim was just to carry on that Britton tradition and enhance it even further. He will be missed.”
Brian also had a strong love of politics. A prominent member of Young Fianna Fáil in TCD, he went on to become a close confidante of both Charlie Haughey and Albert Reynolds and other politicians across the political spectrum.
However, in Donegal it is for surfing and its development as a sport/lifestyle that he will be remembered most.
Over the last number of days tributes from both Irish and international surfers have been pouring in on social media but the organisation that Brian worked with for many years, the Irish Surfing Association had this to say, “Brian’s commitment and absolute dedication to Irish surfing cannot be disputed or indeed be praised highly enough.
“From the early days, Brian was both fundamental and essential to the success of surfing in Ireland. Over the years he worked tirelessly to develop the sport and way of life he loved so much. An Irish team member many times over, Irish Team manager, Irish Surfing Association president, European Surfing Federation president, International Surfing Vice president, and its special Ambassador. Brian was instrumental in organising and bringing to Ireland many international surfing events which were all enormously successful.
“We also cannot forget his commitment to all the clubs and ordinary surfers of Ireland. From his local club in Rossnowlagh to the further reaches of Ireland and beyond, his legacy endures. Without Brian Britton much would have remained undone down through the years and achieving anything without him would have been more difficult.
“No one has put more on the line for Irish Surfing than him. Brian Britton is truly an Irish Surfing Legend.”
Brian who was predeceased by his parents Vinny and Mary, was the much loved husband and best friend of Antoinette, dear father of John, Neil and Naomi, father-in-law of Fiona and Aoife, grandad of Jenna, Aisling, Daisy, Cora and Fionn, and brother of Conor, Barry, William and David. Deeply regretted by his wife, sons, daughter, grandchildren, daughters-in-law, brothers, nephews, nieces, relatives and a wide circle of friends.
Funeral Mass took place on Thursday followed by burial in St. Fursey’s Cemetery, Haggardstown.