Hundreds at funeral of plant hire firm founder and hunt follower

Date: Monday 3rd September 2018

HUNDREDS of mourners from England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and America attended the funeral of Pat O’Malley, the founder of O’Malley Plant Hire and a well-known hunt follower.

Born in Anchill Island, County Mayo, on the west coast of Ireland, Patrick Michael (known as Pat) came to England as a young lad with nothing and over the years worked to build up the O’Malley business which now employs 30 staff.

The son of Patrick and Kathleen O’Malley, he was one of eight siblings with three brothers and four sisters. His father also worked as a civil engineer and travelled to England to work on the railways.

Each of his sons, including Pat, followed their father’s way of life by coming to work in England. Pat was so keen to start making a living that he made his first journey across the Irish Sea aged 16.

He worked on railways throughout the north of England, living in the railway carriages, before meeting his future wife, Anne Furness, whose parents ran Penrith’s former Railway Tavern at the top of Castlegate.

The couple married in November, 1968, at St Catherine’s Church, Penrith. Pat died just months shy of their 50-year wedding anniversary.

The couple made their first home together in a flat above shops in Castlegate while Pat went into a partnership with Jimmy Arthurs, of Penrith, doing construction work.

In 1968 he decided to branch out on his own and bought his first JCB. His hard work and determined nature saw the groundworks and civil engineering business grow and grow. He worked on many roads in the area, including the bypasses at Stainmore, Appleby and Temple Sowerby.

The company was also involved in working on the New Squares development in Penrith and the Penrith Farmers’ and Kidd’s salesroom at Skirsgill. It is now based on a site by their home at Fernwood, Edenhall.

In 1971 Pat and Anne’s son, Tom, was born. He is now a director of O’Malleys and lives at Edenhall with his partner, Joanne Bowness. In 1974 daughter Claire followed. She is also a director of the family business and lives in a home next to the company’s headquarters.

As a young family they had lived at Wetheriggs Rise, Penrith, before moving to Sunny Bank, Stainton. In 1992 they bought their home at Edenhall.

In the early years of the O’Malleys business Anne worked as a seamstress, setting up a joint partnership, Rip ‘n’ Tear Quick Repair, in Great Dockray, Penrith. She ran that alongside raising the children and doing office work for O’Malleys.

Outside work Pat had a great love of the countryside and country sports. He did judo and was very good at Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling. He was a keen fisherman, loved shooting, and also bred terriers and spaniels.

One of his real passions in life was fell hunting, something he started in his teenage years and which carried on throughout his life.

Pat hunted with many different packs and liked to support them, mainly Ullswater Foxhounds, of which he was a trustee, and also Bewcastle Foxhounds. Robert Proud, the Bewcastle Foxhounds huntsman, paid tribute to Pat at his funeral by blowing his hunting horn as he was leaving the church.

He enjoyed playing darts and over the past couple of years had started beekeeping.

He was a freemason, joining in 1995, and went on to be master of one of the Penrith lodges in 2003. He was also master of another of the Penrith lodges in 2010.

Family friend Richard Graham said Pat chose to support the town’s Rainbow Club during both his stints as master. He added that one of the main activities within freemasonry was visiting other lodges and Pat travelled all over the country in that respect.

His dedication and popularity were repaid when events he organised were attended by visiting freemasons from far and wide.

Mr Graham described his friend as a “very social person” and “smashing bloke”, adding that anything Pat did he put his full effort into.

Having taken a step back from the business around 10 years ago, Pat enjoyed trips to Ireland several times a year to visit his numerous family and friends. He was diagnosed with lung cancer two years ago and his health took a downward turn in April.

The funeral was held at St Catherine’s Church, with Pat’s coffin being transported on his Massey Ferguson 165 tractor that was purchased in 1982 and had recently been restored.

A gathering followed at the town’s North Lakes Hotel. Arrangements were in the hands of Walkers Funeral Directors, Penrith. Donations were for the BEEP Fund and the Rainbow Club of Penrith and District.