Peter Kearns

Peter Kearns

A COMPANY with the unlikely name of Rockvig Unlimited has just been quietly wound up. Goldhawk was most impressed to find that the assets to be divvied out here come to a cool €23m. This firm turns out to be a part of the opaque business empire built up by private education entrepreneur Ray Kearns.

‘Grind King’ Kearns, who died two years ago aged 91, was the founder of the Institute of Education, based on Lower Leeson Street, D2, which provided extra tuition outside school hours. This was essentially the first grind school in the country and by spotting that particular gap in the market – where demand increased rapidly on foot of increasing anxiety over the Leaving Cert points system – Kearns managed to become rather rich. These days it offers full school hours to senior cycle students.

(Kearns also went on to open the private third-level Portobello College, which was later sold to US giants Kaplan.)

As is often the case with Irish moneybags, a significant chunk of Kearns’s wealth was in the form of property, while the shares in the thriving education business are understood to be worth millions but no accounts are filed by the unlimited entities involved.

These days the operation is run by Ray Kearns’s D6-based son, Peter (his sister and co-director Una departed the company last year). The ownership, however, of much of the valuable group has remained with Ray’s widow, Bríd Kearns.

Rockvig was incorporated back in 2009 and the directors here are listed as Bríd and Peter Kearns but the 100% shareholder is Bríd, who inherited her hubby’s 80% stake last year, following completion of the probate process. She also inherited ownership of a number of other entities in the empire with the total value of the estate put at a whopping €52m.

Now some of that wealth has been accessed, with the winding up of Rockvig releasing a surplus from this holding company alone of €23m. It is impossible to follow the rest of the money, given the unlimited status of most of the companies, which don’t have to file accounts, as well as a liberal assortment of Isle of Man entities.

Maybe the Institute of Education offers a grind on how to keep your business dealings well away from nosey parkers like Goldhawk.

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