Businessman Arthur French is replacing Joe Kennedy as Chairman of Knock’s Ireland West Airport. The appointment comes as the long-serving Mr Kennedy announced he is to step down from his current role as chairman to become Honorary President of the airport.
The departing Chairman has had an interesting history. Born to Irish emigrants in Manhattan in 1936 he was stranded in Ireland four years later when the family visited for a holiday.
Without a safe ship passage back to America, the family set up home in Co Mayo. At just 16 Joe joined thousands before him and became an economic emigrant and sought his fortune across the Irish Sea in Britain.
Having enormous success later on with Kennedy Construction Group, he expanded the workforce nationally and internationally, notably throughout the Middle East and America. He is noted for his charity work and his role in the Northern Peace Process, working alongside Dr Martin McAleese to finance many community based projects to help bring young people together from all sides of the North.
And he has received papal honours – the first in 2002 from Pope John Paul II and the second in 2013 from Pope Benedict.
His successor, Arthur French, is a native of Claremorris. He established his own company, French Estates, in Co. Kildare in 1975, which has been involved in numerous property, land & development sales. In 2017 Arthur was appointed as the Honorary Consul to Kazakhstan in Ireland and is currently instrumental in expanding economic relationships between the two countries. Arthur is very active in charitable and business related endeavours and has been a Board member of Ireland West Airport since 2006.
Joe Kennedy said: “I’ve been honoured to serve on the board of the airport since 2002 and during that time have had the pleasure of being involved as the airport, through some uncertain times, continued to thrive and grow culminating in a record year of 750,000 passengers in 2017. Arthur brings vast business experience to the position of chairman of the airport and I know the airport will be in very capable hands under Arthur’s stewardship and I wish him the very best of luck in his new role’.
Arthur French said: “We are deeply indebted to Joe for over 16 years of service, showing determination and unwavering commitment in developing and growing the airport to what it is today which is testament to his hard work. I will continue to build on the foundations Joe put in place over the coming years to support the airport as it continues to deliver on its role as a key economic driver for the West and North West of Ireland and look forward to working with the airport team, Government and local and regional stakeholders in a new era for the airport.”
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