Tributes Flow For Former Goffs Managing Director Jonathan Irwin Who Dies Aged 82

Jonathan Irwin | Goffs

Goffs has paid tribute to its former managing director Jonathan Irwin, one of the most influential people in the history of the sales house, who died aged 82 on Sunday.

Irwin joined Goffs in 1975 and oversaw the construction of the world's first purpose-built bloodstock sales complex in Kill, County Kildare.

He was also appointed CEO of the Dublin International Sports Council (DISC) in 1993 and established the Jack and Jill Foundation along with his wife Mary Ann after the birth of their son Jack.

Since 1997, the foundation has supported 1600 families throughout Ireland. It has raised €36 million from the private sector while receiving €4.5 million from the Irish health service. Awards received include Charity of the Year 2003, Irish Personality of the Year 2004, Irish Fundraiser of 2011 and Global Fundraiser of 2011.

A statement published by Goffs on Sunday read, “Everyone at Goffs was saddened to learn of the death of the former Managing Director, Jonathan Irwin.

“Jonathan was appointed Managing Director of Robert J Goff & Co plc in 1975 at the age of just 33 and oversaw an amazing period for the company over the next 15 years, not least the construction of the iconic Kildare Paddocks which remains one of the finest bloodstock sales complexes in the world.”

It continued, “Jonathan was certainly one of the most colourful bloodstock characters of his generation and his legacy lives on in the modern day Goffs. As well as overseeing the design of the complex, he approached the whole business in an innovative and charismatic way. Shouting bid spotters, international guest auctioneers, black tie select sales and the first multi-currency bid board at any auction in the world, an innovation that was almost instantly copied by the likes of Sotheby's and Christie's, were amongst his ideas that have stood the test of time.

“European records were regularly set from the outset with the first sale setting the trend with the IR127,000 Guineas Be My Guest being followed nine years later by a Shergar (GB) colt realising IR3,100,000 Guineas (equivalent to €4.2M today), an Irish auction record that stood for 39 years.”

Goffs chairman Eimar Mulhern and chief executive Henry Beeby also put on record their heartfelt tributes to the man who revolutionised the company.

Mulhern said, “It is with great regret that we hear of the passing of Jonathan Irwin. Jonathan was a titan of the bloodstock industry, transforming and modernising a business which heretofore had been rooted in tradition. He inspired a whole generation, of which I am one, as to a new way to market and promote the business in a truly innovative way. His contribution to Goffs was immense and we are still the beneficiaries of his vision to this day. On behalf of the shareholders and board of Goffs we send our deepest and most sincere sympathy to his wife Mary Anne, his children, his extended family and wide circle of friends.”

Other notable achievements in Irwin's long and distinguished career include being elected a member of the Irish Turf Club in 1976, and launching the Irish Horseman magazine in the 1960s. He was also a director at BBA Ireland.

Beeby commented, “Jonathan was a truly inspirational character who revolutionised the way European thoroughbred auctions were conducted. A true showman, he oozed charisma and I learned a huge amount from him over the years so much so that we still aspire to his lofty standards to this day.”

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