THE McENTEE family has done the county proud in recent years and efforts by two or more of the boys to promote the county football team have been matched by another family member’s efforts in the field of local business. Meath County board chairman Conor Tormey was pleased to state in 2017 that Devenish Nutrition – a specialist animal feed supplier – would be the senior football team’s new sponsor and was “the start of something special for us”. Tormey said Gerry McEntee had introduced the county board to Devenish executive chairman Owen Brennan in 2016, adding that “Owen has tremendous passion for Meath GAA”.
For the next few years Devenish was the team’s official sponsor, but sadly no longer, while another McEntee, Andy, was team manager.
Enter the year 2023 and Devenish Nutrition was under financial pressure, with mixed results for the years 2019 to 2020, partly due to Covid, Brexit uncertainty and a fire in one of its premises in Belfast. Its latest accounts show that it made a pre-tax profit of €1.9m for the year ending May 31, 2019. The previous two years had shown a €6.8m loss and a pre-tax profit of €0.89m.
Borrowings remained high.
Enter another McEntee, Tony, who in March this year was appointed CEO with a brief to turn the company around, which he appears to have partly done as the Belfast-based company underwent restructuring. In April it was reported that Dowth Hall – Devenish properties and lands of 552 acres on the Brú na Bóinne Unesco World Heritage site – was for sale at a price of €10m.
Happily, the Office of Public Works (OPW) bought the property last month for €11m – up €1m since April – and plans to turn the historic area into a national park. There had been no noticeable demand from the locals for a national park but certain people may have had some quiet and persuasive words with OPW ministers and officials about the site’s potential due to neolithic tombs, forts and the like on the property.
All of this must have come as a pleasant surprise and welcome news to that other personality in the McEntee clan, local TD for Meath East and justice minister Helen McEntee. Tony is Helen’s uncle and also her director of elections, while Andy and Gerry are also uncles of the justice minister.