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RIP Tributes paid to businessman Denis Lynn who died in quad bike accident 

Denis Lynn defined the meaning of entrepreneurship. His food innovations made a big impact”

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Denis Lynn

Denis Lynn

Denis Lynn

A leading Northern Ireland businessman has been killed in a quad bike tragedy.

Denis Lynn, boss of renowned Downpatrick-based Finnebrogue, died in an accident on Sunday, May 2.

The father-of-two and founder of the leading artisan food manufacturer was 63 years old.

Mr Lynn’s death is a devastating loss to his family and friends as well as a massive blow to the Northern Ireland food industry.

Tributes have been paid by those in the food industry and local politicians, as the terrible news filtered through early today.

Restaurant critic Joris Minne, who previously worked with Mr Lynn, said he was a trailblazer and shining light.

“Denis Lynn defined the meaning of entrepreneurship. His food innovations made a big impact,” said Mr Minne.

“From selling chips across Northern Ireland (he perfected the precooked chip which he later cooled and sold to chip shops where they could be cooked in 90 seconds) to his venison plant in Finnebrogue estate near Downpatrick where his products including venison sausages, burgers and rumps all made from Irish red deer, he was always doing things differently.

“He struck deals with major retailers including Marks and Spencer, supplied top restaurants including Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck in Berkshire and then made the headlines when he introduced Naked Bacon, a safer product which doesn’t use harmful nitrites. Everything he made was very tasty, well researched and reliable.

“I enjoyed working with him in the early years of Finnebrogue when he employed about 40 people and faced a lot of opposition to his expansion plans. Almost 20 years on, Finnebrogue now employs 640.

“He was a Red Adair character thirsty for adventure and his commitment to his business and his family was never less than complete.”

DUP MLA Jim Wells said the whole community was shocked to learn of Mr Lynn’s sudden death in a quad bike accident.

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“He made a huge contribution to the economic life of the area,” said Mr Wells.

“Denis was the managing director of Finnebrogue Vension Company which employed over 100 staff at its state of the art factory in the Belfast Road Industrial Estate in Downpatrick.

“His customers included Marks and Spencer and Finnebrogue meat products were sold throughout the World.”

South Down SDLP MLA Colin McGrath also expressed his shock on social media.

“He was an entrepreneur who worked hard and delivered hundreds of jobs to the Downpatrick area,” Mr McGrath said.

“I worked with him in his recent expansion. He cared about our area and his charity work was understated and had impact especially in Africa.”

Mr Lynn set up his own food business — which would go on to become Finnebrogue — in 1985.

It produces high quality venison and other meat products, and counts chefs Paul Rankin and Heston Blumenthal among its customers, while the company is also one of Marks and Spencer leading sausage suppliers.

The company recently made a big investment in vegetarian-based products.

His success came despite the fact that Mr Lynn had no farming experience before he bought Finnebrogue Estate.

In an interview with the Belfast Telegraph in 2016, Mr Lynn spoke of his road to his success.

“I never had any cunning business plan,” he continued.

“I went over to the place and it was a total and emotional decision to buy it.

“There were pheasants and rabbits running around and it was an absolutely amazing place, that was it, but buying it has done me no harm in the last 25 years.

“In fact, it was the best thing I have ever done.”

He added: “One of my faults, which is also a strength, is the fact I have no idea when I am actually beaten.”

A biography on the Finnebrogue Venison website tells how Mr Lynn left school at 15 and went on to make his company a world renowned brand.

After being expelled from Sullivan Upper School, just outside his home city of Belfast, he worked as a salesman and a food distributor — but “from an early age, I thought working for myself was probably the right way to go”,

He went out on his own aged 27, buying processed food and selling it to cafes and restaurants.

Then came Finnebrogue Artisan, one of Northern Ireland’s biggest meat producers.

The company innovates by making bacon and sausages without using potentially carcinogenic preservatives called nitrites and posted £5m in pre-tax profits on sales of £78m in the year ending September 2018.

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