Home News Sadness following passing of pioneering Portarlington hotelier who was before his time

Sadness following passing of pioneering Portarlington hotelier who was before his time

Ray Searson

The death has taken place of Ray Searson.

The pioneering Portarlington hotelier was living in Kinsale in recent years. He departed Portarlington about 30 years ago but remains fondly remembered and highly regarded in the town. He had also lived in Midleton in Cork and Bonn in Germany.

He made a significant contribution to the community and commercial development of Portarlington back in the 1970’s and 80’s.

Ray Searson purchased the East End hotel from the Bogue family in the early 1970’s and soon went about putting his own mark on the establishment.

With no shortage of flair, vision and culinary skill he soon developed Searson’s East End Hotel into a popular venue for dining, socialising and weddings.

The small family run hotel was a thriving hub of activity under his stewardship as he breathed new life into the East End at a time when Portarlington had large workforces in Avon Arlington, the ESB, Odlums and Bord na Móna as well as other local businesses and factories.

Ray who was active in the local Chamber of Commerce and Junior Chamber was instrumental in starting the original Festival Francais de Portarlington.

As a founding member and driving force behind the event he identified the vast tourist potential of the town’s Huguenot heritage, and recognised the need for high standards, creativity and the personal touch in the hospitality sector.

The French Festival Ball and the crowning of the ‘Jewel of Arlington’ was one of the social highlights of the year in the midlands and the Festival was recognised with a European Tourism Award. Ray Searson it was who organised to bring the then World Snail Eating Champion, Marc Quinqaundon from France to Portarlington for the French Festival.

He was famous for his cooking and regularly hosted gourmet evenings at his hotel.

Two of his sisters, Deirdre and Aiveen both also worked in the hospitality sector and were well liked members of the Killeshin Hotel when the MD was the late Pat O’ Shea.

Fellow hotelier and current General Manager at the Killeshin, Michael Murphy, remembers Ray Searson well.

“His sisters Deirdre and Aiveen both worked here with Pat O’ Shea. Ray did a fabulous job in the East End, as you had to be very involved and hands-on to successfully run a hotel like that. And of course the French Festival was his baby, it was a great event.”

Long-time neighbour and friend from his Portarlington days, Laurie Ennis remembered Ray in a Facebook post: “Sincere sympathy to all the Searson family. Remembering happy days and fun times in Portarlington and of course, the glorious food. Rest easy dearest Ray.”

Raymond (Ray) Searson died on Saturday, July 20, at Haven Bay Care Centre, Kinsale.

Raymond, beloved brother of the late Deirdre. Sadly missed by his loving daughters Emmeline, Janet and their mother Margaret; sisters Madeline, Jean, Marie, Eithne and Aiveen; brother Fergus, son-in-law, grandchildren Giorgio and Luciano, extended family and friends.

A Gathering of friends and family will be held at Gabriel and O’Donovan’s Funeral Home, Kinsale, this Monday evening, July 22 from 6 to 8pm approx. Cremation Service on Tuesday at 2pm at The Island Crematorium, Ringaskiddy.

All welcome to both services. Donations in lieu of flowers to Diabetes Ireland.

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John Whelan has been a journalist, commentator, columnist, political analyst, campaigner, politician and publisher ever since he was 17. Having been Editor of the Leinster Express, Offaly Express and the Leinster Leader he has also contributed extensively on a number of issues to all of the country's flagship titles and programmes including the Irish Press, The Irish Independent, the Star, the Sunday Independent, the Sunday Business Post, The Sunday Times and Prime Time. He is founder of Communicate Ireland a PR, public affairs, event management and media services company. He is the author of the popular camping blog, Vanhalla - Camper Heaven.