JIMMY TIGHE – A LIFE

To provide a synopsis of a life like Jimmy’s will undoubtedly prove as difficult as it might be to consume a 10 course Michelin Star tasting menu in 30 minutes.

L?R Tony Conlon, Seamus Murray, Jimmy Tighe & Albert Mulligan

Jimmy was multifaceted: a businessman; restaurateur; hotel manager; banqueting manager; educationalist; restaurant manager; catering manager; sommelier; and of course, a raconteur of much repute. Jimmy was a man with many a tale to tell, and as you all know, he had a story for every situation.

He was born in Temple Bar, grew up in Crumlin, before beginning his (illustrious?) professional career in the Royal Hibernian Hotel in the late 1950s under the guidance of such icons as Kevin O’Mara, Johnny Bacon and Michael Breen.

His career took him to the Intercontinental Hotel Dublin, The 3 Lakes Hotel Killarney, traversing/around the globe on the cruise liners, before reaching Canada in the late 1960s.

My first  encounter with Jimmy was in 1972, he having returned from Alberta Canada to join THF for the opening of International Airport hotel. Jimmy brought with him many tales of his adventures in Canada, regaling us often with stories of his meeting with the Queen and others at Jasper National Park Hotel.

I decided to go to Canada, He got me a job but I met a girl and the rest is history

A man of redoubtable charm who always dressed to impress (velvet dinner jacket for dinner service)…more like a person going to dine at a formal dinner.

In the International Airport Hotel, Jimmy led a great team, inspiring those under him with his innovative approach to work – pioneering the notion of the four day week and every second weekend off.

As a close-knit team, the intimacy he  developed  among his workers inevitably gave way to nicknames, and among his employees Jimmy could count ‘Scutch’, ‘Ate the Hay’, ‘Blinky’, ‘Chopper’, ‘Whacker’,  ‘Grumpy’, ‘Tracker’ ‘Twinkle Toes’, while he himself was known as ’Jasper’ (for obvious reasons!)

My nickname I never knew.

All the while, Jimmy managed to operate a business on the side, successfully running the restaurant in the Boot Inn in Cloughran

In the late 1970s, though I personally lost touch with Jimmy, he continued his ascent in catering in the UK, with his endeavours including a stint with THF, managing various  hotels, working with the Bank of England, proprietor of a restaurant in Nantwich and an outdoor catering enterprise.

In the early 1990s, Jimmy returned to Ireland, though he left shortly afterwards for the Isle of Man where he worked with Albert Gubay How can you put two people like that together it doesn’t  work  so back to Dublin. In Ireland, Jimmy worked as catering manager with CIE, before moving on to consultancy with Fáilte Ireland, With Taste and Knorr Foods.

In 1995, Jimmy returned to education in order to gain the required qualification to pass on to others the skills he had built up over a long, varied and prestigious career. He duly took a position at DIT and IT Tallaght, before moving on to teach in  the Liberties  and Crumlin Colleges of  further education where he remained for the rest of his teaching life.    Classical period -Culinary French…Crepes Suzette, Peach Melba Chateaubriand, Rossini

Jimmy was ardent member of the Irish Guild of Sommeliers and was paramount in establishing IGS when it broke away from the UK branch. He served on council up to the time of his death.

The two loves of Jimmy’s life were his daughters Kellie and Stacey – fussing over their visits, organising every detail of their accommodation, meals and tours

Just like the Queens visit– and I know he would have dearly loved to have seen his grandson Jack.

Jimmy was a man of unfaltering generosity, I was always struck by his kindness, for example he bought presents for all the ward staff during his first Christmas on dialysis treatment in the Mater hospital

Among his many Charity Acts – Knights of Columbanus   RDS Christmas Day lunch for the homeless and people on the margins of society – Musical talent

Given the peripatetic nature of his professional career, it was no surprise that Jimmy had something of the natural born traveller in him, journeying to lands as far-flung as Cuba, Russia, Poland, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, South Africa and North and South America

In later years, we had the privilege of Jimmy’s company on Christmas mornings… where he mesmerised my family and friends with captivating tales of adventure.

I could go on but this is a synopsis

To use his own turn of phrase –

Goodbye Jimmy, you were a gentleman and a scholar

Jimmy died on Saturday, January,21st, 2012

Tony Conlon

26th January 2012