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William O’Brien 1928-2017

We have just received the sad news that William - ‘Willy’ - O’Brien senior passed away last Saturday, following a short illness. He was 89.

Originally a Kerryman O’Brien began his career in the construction industry, and founded the company that bears his name in Cork in the early 1950’s when he purchased his a truck and JCB loader backhoe. As he moved into the 1960s he acquired his first crane first crane which launched one of the longest established crane rental companies in the British Isles.
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William O'Brien senior

Through the 1970s he expanded the group setting up a waste disposal business and the company O’ Brien Plastics, both based in Cork. During the 1980’s he imported compaction equipment adding concrete pumping in the 1990’s.

He handed over the running of the company to his son William O’Brien junior in 1996 who then purchased the remaining 75 percent holding in William O’Brien Plant Hire in 2007.

Willy O'Brien was an original thorough and through, a real character who woudl never miss a trick or an oportunity. He was way ahead of his time promoting the business with slogans and publicity stunts. When President Kennedy visited Ireland in 1963 O'Brien supplied a crane, not only to gain a view and wave the US flag, but also to advertise, the slogan says “Any obstacle put in the presidents way call William O'Brien” See the 2009 overview of the company's history from Cranes & Access

The industry has lost a true original this week.
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Willy O'Brien promoting the business during the pressedential visit to Ireland of 1963


Robert Law
Willy was a true entrepreneur and gentleman. Our condolences to his family and friends. May he rest in peace.

Jul 26, 2017

I am sorry to learn of the passing of a dear friend and former customer. Willie was a gentleman and an astute business man. My condolences to his family. Rest in peace Wille.

Jul 23, 2017

john enright
RIP Willy.

Jul 21, 2017