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True gent Feargal a legend to the end

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Feargal Quinn

Feargal Quinn

Feargal Quinn

There's an advertisement on TV at the moment for a well-known brand of chewing gum. It features a young couple who are about to indulge in some intimate business in her bedroom, when she realises her parents have come home.

The young man, instead of panicking, simply pops a chewing gum into his mouth and introduces himself confidently to the girl's dad.

The father's reaction is a wry smile, and an acceptance that there's no point in making a big fuss.

Once upon a time, I was that soldier.

Not the father, I hasten to add, but the callow youth.

While there was nothing more going on that some gentle snogging, the sudden appearance of her dad could have been a source of huge embarrassment.

Unfussed

I mention this incident now because the father in question was Feargal Quinn, who died last week.

The cool, unfussed manner in which the great man behind the Superquinn brand dealt with that incident sticks in my mind - as does one other episode.

I was a guest at his daughter's 21st birthday party, and arrived to find Feargal talking to five of her friends.

I went over to say hello, and he introduced me to each of the group he was talking to.

Without any prompting, he remembered their names, even though he had met them all for the first time that evening.

It may sound like a small thing, but it says everything about the man.

Feargal paid attention to everyone he spoke to, knew the benefit of good manners and had an effortless ability to make people feel good.

The fact that Feargal Quinn remembered who you were made you feel fantastic.

Much has been written in the past few days about how he was a pioneer who revolutionised customer service in this country.

While other supermarket owners preferred to be on golf courses or yachts, Feargal's preference was for hitting the aisles at 9am and chatting with his customers, finding out how he could improve his stores.

He made Superquinn a household name for quality and service, and introduced many innovations we now take for granted - in-store bakeries, fresh meat counters and quality own-brand produce.

In his other activities, as chairman of An Post, presenter of RTE's Retail Therapy and a member of An Seanad, he brought the same skill, tireless work ethic and charm.

Some may lament the fact that the only thing that remains now of Superquinn - Feargal showed his business acumen by selling up just before the crash - is its famous sausages.

However, it is perhaps app- ropriate. Compact, better than its competitors, and unerring in bringing a smile to your face, the Superquinn sausage is everything Feargal Quinn was.

I'd normally refrain from using the word "legend" to describe someone, but I'll make an exception, because that's what Feargal Quinn was.