A man who wasn’t afraid to tackle chicanery
THE most talked about business news story last week barely rippled in the media beyond a death notice and an obituary. Details of James Osborne’s tragic death were omitted to respect the privacy of those who loved him.
We have lost a powerful advocate for shareholders in the boardrooms of some of the most successful Irish and international companies. He was an officer (of the court) and an Anglican gentleman consistently confronting chicanery among executives and directors.
It is no coincidence that he was a close friend and advisor to our most successful international businessman, Michael O’Leary.
Mr Osborne – who famously resigned as chairman of Independent News and Media – said he was going to a board meeting last Thursday week and was found dead the next day in a boathouse he owned near Milford, in his beloved Co. Donegal.
Although born in Devon where his father was a Royal Navy commander, he grew up in Milford. He was a brilliant student at Trinity College (where a memorial service was held on Friday), and his meteoric legal career began after graduation.
Within six years of joining A&L Goodbody he was a partner, and voted managing partner three years later.
He retired at 45 and was appointed to the board of Bank of Ireland and dairy company Golden Vale. He continued as a corporate consultant.
Ten years ago he separated from his wife, Heather, with whom he had a son and a daughter. He also had a daughter with model and newspaper columnist Patricia Devine.
All of them were at a private cremation ceremony last Wednesday and a public memorial service on Friday.
He already has one grandchild, and both his son’s partner and older daughter are currently expecting babies.
A doting father and grandfather, he had no financial worries, no health concerns and his family life was contented, according to friends. And that makes his death at 68 all the more sad and puzzling.