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Respected brewing brothers pass away

by Jimmy Rhatigan

WE REMEMBER people who pass away for different reasons.

Some who go to their eternal reward are heroes of local communities, others have served our country in different ways.

Two eminent brothers from Kilkenny’s famous Smithwick brewing family would fit neatly into both categories.

Paul Benedict Smithwick who died late last month and his brother Peter Alexander who has just died truly were Irish heroes in their own wonderful ways.

Peter was originally a solicitor in the family business in Parliament Street for years before being appointed a judge and was President of the District Court for 17 years.

He also served as chairman and sole member of the Smithwick Tribunal of Inquiry into the killing of a chief superintendent and superintendent of the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

He was a kind, caring, quietly spoken and extremely  courteous man who was a thorough professional in the legal world.

But perhaps it was as a member and then Knight of Malta in the Order of Malta that he really enjoyed helping communities and organisations in a voluntary organization to which he devoted so much of his life.


Peter was elevated to Knight but he never shirked the rank and file duties of Order members.

He regularly stood on local footpaths street collections to help fund the local Order, described as a vibrant branch of a major provider of first-aid services and training, ambulance and community and elderly care services.

Peter and I were on similar errands one Friday afternoon outside our city’s Market Cross Shopping Centres.

His collection box was for the Order and mine was for the then Emfa Soccer Club.

We joked that our common denominator was that we were both beggars.

We shared a sardonic sense of humour.

Peter was a man of high principals who presided in the courts of our country.

In his warm heart, he was a man of the people who showed true respect for his fellow man and woman.

Paul was retired from the family law business and was a dedicated philanthropist devoted to promoting British-Irish relations.

The latter he did proudly by selling his beloved Kilkenny through regular dinner gatherings for Irish and English guests in the Parade Tower of Kilkenny Castle.

Cheers: Paul was a great PR man


He was really delighted as more and more people turned up for his international banquets.

He was recognized for his Herculean efforts when he was awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE), a bonus for the hard work he did voluntarily.

It was perhaps Paul’s outgoing personality and public relations acumen that were the keys to the success of his project.

He was bright and cheerful, very friendly, full of chat and always looking forward to what he called the next big night in our castle.

He is survived by his children Emma, Daniel and Georgie; sister Judy; son and daughter-in-law Sarah and grandchildren, Alice, Eugenie and Emma.

He was predeceased by sons Edmond and Richard.

 Peter, who had lived at The Rectory, Inistioge is survived by his wife Deirdre; children Thalia and Aoife; sister Judy; grandchildren Diarmuid, Oisín, Isabel, Nicky and Marina.

His Requiem Mass was at St Mary’s Cathedral and interment was in the grounds of St Canice’s Cathedral.

He was the king of his local castle who won many friends on both sides of the Irish Sea.

He retained his love of brewing to his senior years when he was one of a local group that revived the one time Sullivan’s Brewery of James’s Street, Kilkenny.

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