Nicholas was special – a man of integrity, humility and exceptional intellectual ability, held in respect by anyone who encountered him.

Born in 1943, he was the son of Archbishop George Otto and Mercy Simms.

He graduated from Trinity College with a degree in economics and political science and as a student, spent time in Germany and Italy developing his language skills.

Early in his career, he worked with his father-in-law Conor Cruise O’Brien, then a Government minister, honing his diplomatic and political skills which served him well throughout his life.

Nicholas joined An Bord Bainne (Irish Dairy Board) Co-op in 1976, holding several positions including economist, secretary and general manager of administration.

He retired after 32 years of service in 2008.

A Europhile and European affairs expert, he had the confidence of the dairy industry, farming bodies, the media, academia, industry and Government bodies, including the Department of Agriculture, which frequently contacted him on the application of EU regulations.

EU man

From early on, he was a member of several EU professional associations where his linguistic competence in French, German, Spanish, Italian and Dutch made him a highly respected contact for the European institutions and member delegations.

His knowledge and network in Brussels led to several favourable CAP-related economic and monetary outcomes for Ireland, while his intellectual agility and expertise served the industry well during periods of crisis such as BSE and foot and mouth.

He was an early adopter of IT, cut his teeth on monetary compensatory amounts and had the uncanny ability to become an expert on the prevailing business issue of the day, be it dairy markets, international legislation or entomology.

Nicholas was popular with staff and skilfully managed the HR function for several years. He acted as secretary (and later trustee) to the Board Superannuation Scheme. He was always available to advise people on their pension rights and options. As secretary to the board of directors, he was aware of the importance of corporate governance and was trusted by the members.

Eagerness to share knowledge

Moreover, his outstanding knowledge of the co-operative rules contributed to the board winning a landmark Supreme Court case, a ruling that underpinned Ornua’s subsequent development and influenced other co-op share trading issues.

Nicholas’ contribution to the success of Kerrygold over the past 60 years was also significant. Never seeking the limelight, he preferred to remain in the background, unless it was on the dancefloor.

He was a man without ego, treating everyone with respect. One of his greatest attributes was his eagerness and ability to share his knowledge generously with others.

In recent years, he made full use of his language, political and IT skills to the benefit of his community, including winning an Age Action award for helping a visually impaired client to navigate the internet.

Nicholas was a Renaissance man – we will not meet his like again. Sincere sympathy to his wife Fedelma, his sons Mark and Laurence and to his extended family.