All Mixed Up

I went to a rocking concert last Saturday afternoon when my son Eamon and a group of enthusiastic Cork musicians played some great music and sang a few tunes from their new CD….. All Mixed Up. The concert was organised to launch their CD which was put together to raise much needed money for Cork Simon, a wonderful charity that does serious work to support the homeless people of Cork.

Photo 1: Eamon with members of the Lazy River Band before the CD launch

All of the artists gave their time and talent for free and Eamon sang the song he had composed about a homeless girl in the city. His song is called 5 O’clock Birdsong. His cousin Breiffni Horgan also gives a beautiful rendition of Puccini’s Nessum Dorma on the CD.

No 2: Eamon singing 5 O clock Birdsong

Photo 3: Ray giving Leonard Cohen’s, Hallelujah a good blast

The official launch was done very professionally by the Cork County Mayor Seamus Mc Grath and during the concert everyone was delighted to see Micheál Martin arrive to support their fund raising efforts.

The happy faces after the successful launch of Ray Daly, Tony Breen, Micheál Martin, Eamon and the wonderfully talented Fergal O Connor

Copies of the CD are on sale at Pro Musica the music shop in Cork if anyone wants a copy.

Ted Dwyer Family Business

December 2016

 

 

Climate Change

The one thing that was always noticeable on the Canary Island of Lanzarote was the total lack of any vegetation. The Island always appeared to be just bare volcanic rock

This year however things are quite different and looking across from The Old town of Porto Del Carmen towards Porto Colero the greenness of the countryside which was never noticeable before is now quite pronounced.

The world it is a changing!

Ted Dwyer Family Business

November 2016

Munster Rugby

Last Friday evening I was lucky enough to be in Thomond Park to watch Munster play The Maori All Blacks. It was a wet miserable night and I was lucky to be up high in the stand out of the rain and wind. The ground was totally full and even the terraces exposed to the worst of the weather were full of brave supporters.

Munster played against the wind and we expected them to be behind at half time especially after two splendid tries by the Maori’s in the first half. Incredibly Munster played some wonderful, along the ground, old fashioned rugby suited to the conditions and fought back to be leading at half time. With the wind and the rain and the raucous support of the wonderful crowd all now helping Munster.  As a result in the second half they literally blew them away.

Photo of Munster in the second half..I don’t think they left the Maori’s out of their half!

I don’t go to many matches now but felt truly privileged to have been in attendance that evening and to feel the spirit and passion of Munster Rugby. It is quite incredible how the death of Anthony Foley has made such an impact in rekindling the passion of Irish and Munster rugby. Thomond Park has been a sell out since his death and as we know the Irish men have beaten the All Blacks for the first time ever, when they beat them well recently in Chicago. Next Saturday’s replay in Dublin is one to savour!

What really touched me, was what happened at the end of the match in Thomond Park. First of all when the match finished the Maori team went into a huddle naturally a bit shell shocked by being beaten by what was effectively Munster’s second string team.

As they walked off the pitch towards the dressing room they clapped and saluted the Munster supporters as they disappeared from view.

Not only that but within a few minutes they reappeared from under the stand, to a ground still packed full of cheering Munster fans and proceeded to walk around the entire pitch shaking hands and clapping and saluting the crowd.

Photo of the Maori team walking around the ground saluting the spirit of Munster rugby and their extraordinary supporters.

It’s funny the things you remember but my mind went back to the first all-Ireland final I saw which was in 1956, over 60 years ago, when my all-time sporting hero Christy Ring played I think, his last all Ireland final for Cork. Cork played Wexford that day, and beat Cork fairly and squarely in a great match.  At the end of the match to honour the outstanding sportsman that Christy was, two of the great Wexford players, Nick O Donnell and Bobby Rackard hoisted Ringy on their shoulders and walked him around the ground to pay tribute with the crowd, to one of Ireland’s greatest ever hurlers.

Two great sporting memories to have in my memory bank. Two magic moments when the hair stood up in the back of my neck!

Ted Dwyer Family Business

November 2016

Autumn leaves

In Ireland this year we have had the driest calmest autumn/early winter that I can ever remember. As a result the colour of the leaves on the trees is spectacular.

On Sunday we walked around the beautiful Atlantic Pond with our grandchildren.

Son Owen was with us and decided that he should bury himself in the leaves for their entertainment.

A few seconds later he rose from the leaves with a shout and as he did a young lady walking her dog just happened to be strolling past and got the fright of her life. Coincidentally Owen knew her and said “Hi Sarah” and with that she got a fit of laughing as she continued on her merry way.

Life is full of surprises!

Ted Dwyer Family Business

November 2016

Doonbeg revisited

Last week I made a return trip to Doonbeg golf club not really knowing what to expect. The original course was designed by golf architect Greg Norman and I always felt that he had not made best use of what is a pretty incredible bit of links land, in a most gorgeous part of the west coast of Ireland, overlooking the breath-taking beach at Doonbeg.

Notwithstanding that a large track of the land was preserved, for the protection of a small species of snail, I was still disappointed with the original layout.

I had last visited Doonbeg in April 2014, just after the severe storms earlier that year had wreaked havoc on the course and literally washed a number of greens into the Atlantic Ocean. I had seen something similar in Ballybunion when the old second green now the 7th had literally vanished into the ocean in a bad storm many years ago. Since that time Ballybunion Golf Club have spent an enormous amount of money each year protecting their golf course boundaries by the use of gabions, basically cages of stones which they have placed on the shore line to protect their vulnerable sandy soil. This has worked really well and if this work had not been done I wonder how much of the original Ballybunion golf course would be still there today!

Photo taken April 2014 when the original 9th green at Doonbeg was literally blown away. My friend PJ Queally is the good looking model in the photo!

Anyway, just to say that I was absolutely taken with the new Doonbeg. It is in my view up there with the very best golf courses in Ireland. In fact with the new course in Hogg’s Head in Waterville now practically finished and due to open next year, and the new Doonbeg I think that the pool of great Irish golf courses has been considerably enhanced. Martin Hawtree the architect and his team have I think done a splendid job at Doonbeg.

I had serious reservations about what the new Doonbeg would look like because I was not a fan of the work that the same Martin Hawtree had done a few years ago at Little Island where he messed around with the bunkers and put in many unnecessary and silly ones and in my view did a rotten job on the reconstruction of what was a lovely traditional Little Island hole the 12th.

At Doonbeg however he has I think transformed what was a mediocre course, in a great location, into a classic traditional links golf course and yes I am absolutely raving about it..it is up there with Ballybunion, Waterville, Portmarnock, Portrush,Lahinch and all the other top notch Irish links golf courses.

There is however one major problem at Doonbeg and if it is not resolved soon there could well be another major natural disaster waiting to happen. All that is needed is one major Atlantic storm and much of the great work done recently at Doonbeg could well be blown away.

When I visited Doonbeg in April 2014 there were mounds of stones on site waiting to be put into use for coastal protection. This was just after Donald Trump’s company had purchased the golf Course.

It later transpired that Donald Trump’s company and Clare County Council were in dispute about planning permission and also involved in the dispute now are environmentalists and also the surfers who use the wonderful beach for surfing. Not sure what the surfers problems are.

Currently there is no protection in place and the entire strip of land that is adjacent to the sea is totally vulnerable. In fact by the wonderful 18th hole played towards the hotel and clubhouse there is literally two feet of sand between the beach and the fairway. On one of the greens they have put a few bails of straw between the green and the sea. Currently that is the only protection in place. The land is in serious danger of coastal erosion.

Photo of new green with temporary protection.

We are now fast approaching another winter. I appeal to all concerned to sort something out now before it is too late. This wonderful golf links at Doonbeg needs to be protected from the elements. Clare tourism and Ireland needs this type of high class product where the golf course and hotel combine to attract vital golfing and wedding revenues and give important local employment. Doonbeg is a special place but is quite isolated. It needs everything to be right to work well.

Please please will somebody out there sort out this ongoing impasse and let this work begin!

Ted Dwyer Family Business

October 2016

Family Business

My love for the family business model is close to passionate. I love talking about them, working with them and most of all I love working in one of them.

When I was younger I had the good experience of being part of a business family. My father was the 4th generation of our family to work in a company in Cork called Dwyer & Co. My eldest brother George worked alongside him for a number of years.  At that time my Grandfather George (Dubs) was also still working in the business running an associate company Lee Footwear. Three generations of my family in one family business at the one time was I thought pretty cool!

As a young boy I used to be brought in to the various businesses and I met some of the wonderful people who worked there including family members who worked in the various departments of Dwyer & Co. In particular I used to enjoy visiting my godfather John Harding who always had a Fry’s dark chocolate bar hidden in his desk for me. That original Dwyer building still stands, directly opposite the Courthouse on Washington Street in Cork city.

Dwyer & Co was started by my great great grandfather James Dwyer in 1820 and over the years passed successfully through the generations eventually becoming a major employer in Cork.  At one time over 2,000 people worked in their different companies.

But bit by bit things started to unravel during the 1960’s and 1970’s. My father and his fellow director/owners were grappling with very difficult trading difficulties and complicated succession issues in the business, with too many family members involved. There were ongoing battles too about the ownership of the shares in the business and about who was actually the boss. My father also had at this time his own issues with alcohol and eventually lost his job and was effectively left with very little as his shares in the business became worthless.

My brother George because of the family confusion could see that there really was no future for him in the business and left it in 1972 to form his own clothing company Eurostyle Ltd which he has since transferred smoothly to two of his sons Alan and Peter.

Dwyer & Co eventually closed its doors in 1981 having traded for 161 years. That was the saddest day you can imaging as so many wonderful loyal people lost their jobs at a time when work in Cork was very difficult to come by. The only positive thing I took from that sad time was that when the liquidation of the company took place there was sufficient cash to pay off the creditors in full.

For me the decision to start my own business was not too difficult because I suppose when family business is engrained in your soul, the starting of one seemed a natural thing to do. And so in 1971, over 45 years ago I started my own little business on a wing and a prayer with a few quid borrowed from the bank.  13 years ago my eldest son Eamon joined me so now it is a family business in a real sense. The succession journey is now well underway as the control, ownership and responsibilities pass more and more to him as each day passes.

I read a nice article in the Financial Times last week about a particular business founder who was talking to his son about joining him in the business. His words were to the effect that if his son joined him, then, initially his son would work for the father. After a time they would share the responsibilities and ownership. Then after another while, the son would take over most of the responsibilities and ownership and the founder would spend the rest of his working days continuing to build up the value of the company for the benefit of his son and his son’s family. That was the deal.

In the words of Leonard Cohen when he talks about the various stages that we go all through in life. I am coming to realise that that’s the stage that I am at now.

I actually needed to read that article because for some people the letting go of the family business they started, comes easier than for others. For me I find it quite difficult and I think I needed to read those words and to feel I have a purpose in my continuing day to day work.

For so long the business was for me the only way I had of feeding and education my family and its survival through good and bad times was absolutely vital as I didn’t have any other way of earning a living. Yes for many years it was tough going and when the need for survival is engrained in you, it is perhaps difficult to let go.

I think that in the future when I talk to business owners who have a daughter or a son working with them in the business that they started, I will have more empathy for their feelings when I suggest that they start to pass some shares in their business to that daughter or son so that the business becomes their business too.

When I suggest that they should get their son or daughter to start putting some money away every month into a pension plan so that they too like the founder will have financial independence outside of the business I must be careful. Careful not to be too casual about the fact that bit by bit a successful succession plan means that the founder will in time not be needed by the business so much. That the business that was their working life for so long will in time perhaps not need them anymore.

It is a good problem I have and I am not complaining. There were many times over the years that our little business was struggling and could have gone under. That would have presented me with a much more difficult problem to overcome than the little one I face today. This one hopefully will just take a little bit of getting used to!

Ted Dwyer Family Business

October 2016

Maybe it’s time to get selfish with our money!

Many people are giving money needlessly each month to the tax man, money that they could and should, be paying to themselves.

Over the years if I am talking with young people, who are reluctant to start up a simple little pension plan I say to them” why not pay yourself a little money each month instead of paying it to the tax man? “They say to me “what do you mean”?

If the young person I am talking with is between the age of 30 and 40 and is on an income figure of €40,000, they would in Ireland, pay tax at the high rate of 40%, on some of that salary.

I then explain that if they allow me to set up a little pension plan for them they can pay up to 20% of their taxable income figure of €40,000, that’s €667 per month into their own little private pension plan. If they do as I suggest this will save them tax of €267 each month (€3,200 a year).

Imagine if they are aged 35 and do this every month till they get to age 65 they will save tax in total of €96,000 … That’s a lot of tax saved!

Payback time

And not only have that but remember what I said that they would be paying this money each month to themselves. When they get to age 65 if the money they had invested each month grew by just 4% each year, their fund would be worth €463,000. That projected figure is of course not guaranteed as the pension fund value will rise and fall over the years. However because the growing fund is tax exempt, it is not an unrealistic possibility over a thirty year timeframe, especially, if that person has an average risk tolerance.

So what has been achieved….. 1) Tax saved of up to €96,000……2) Pension fund projection of €463,000… not a bad day’s work.

But that’s not all because in Ireland when you get to pension age of say 65 it is possible under our present tax rules to take 25% of the pension fund, within certain limits, totally free of tax.

This comes to 25% of €463,000……… €115,750.

With the tax saved of €96,000 added to the 25% tax free cash it comes to tax reliefs and tax free cash of over €211,750.

And of course not forgetting the main purpose of the exercise which was the creation of a nice tidy pension fund.  The residual value after taking the tax free cash will be €347,250 which is now available alongside the tax free cash fund of €115,750 to fund ongoing income for life. Happy days!

Go on……….Pay some money to yourself each month!

Ted Dwyer Family Business

Oct 2016