THE death has occurred this week of Roger Porritt, who with Durty Nelly’s and later with Gooser’s of Killaloe pioneered the concept of the gastropub in the Mid-West.
A successful businessman, he sold Durty Nelly’s in the early 1980s for around £1 million, then a record sum for a pub in Ireland.
Originally from Wales, Mr Porritt played rugby league in his younger days and settled in the Mid-West region during the late 1950s.
He met his wife Joan Odlum - a member of the flour-milling family - while she worked with Castle Tours in Bunratty, which was then establishing itself as a tourist destination with the completion of the restoration of the castle and the addition of the folk park.
And it was Roger Porritt who was responsible for the first major commercial development in the village. He bought Durty Nelly’s for a sum reportedly in the region of £17,000 in the early 1960s and it soon carved out a reputation for hospitality and for excellent food among jet-setting pilots, cabin crew and other high-rollers who visited Shannon in its heyday. It was so well-known that pilots would alert air traffic control to their arrival by saying they were “passing over Durty Nellys”.
The pub was sold to Limerick businessman Humphrey O’Connor for a record £1 million in the 1980s.
Much of this sum was reinvested in Gooser’s in Killaloe during the 1980s. Mr Porritt was himself a cook and emphasised fresh produce, meaning the pub became a destination in the Mid-West for those who appreciated good cuisine. He sold Gooser’s just over 10 years ago.
Mr Porritt, late of Ferns Hollow, Ballina, was regarded as “part of the furniture around Killaloe and fitted in very well with the locals”, one resident recalled this week.
He is predeceased by his wife Joan and is survived by his four daughters, relatives and friends.