- Created on Friday, 23 December 2016 15:37
- Written by Guest Writer
22nd January 1957 to 5th December 2016
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam
It is with deep sadness that we learned of the passing of Richard FitzGerald on 5th December 2016.
Richard was a Kerryman, reared in Beaufort, close to Killarney, where he was educated at St Brendan’s College. He completed a primary degree (B.Sc.) in Zoology at University College Cork where he was further awarded a PhD for studies on ecological interactions of fish-parasite communities under Professor Maire Mulcahy. He was involved in research and development in aquaculture for almost 30 years in a variety of roles and posts. Richard also held MBA and accountancy qualifications.
In the 1987, Richard began his career as Technical Director of Aquahatch - a salmon farming company, owned by the State venture capital agency NADCORP, based both in Lough Allen, Co. Leitrim and at Ballinaclash, Co. Wicklow.
In the early 1990s, he returned to UCC to establish and manage the Aquaculture Development Centre (now the AFDC), building it up from scratch, initially in the Lee Maltings and then over-seeing a move to the Distillery Fields. In 1998, Richard was appointed to the Aquaculture Licensing Appeals Board, part of a new regulatory system for the aquaculture industry that was intended to mirror An Bord Pleanala in hearing objections to licence applications.
He joined NUI Galway in 2006 as a Senior Research Fellow, and shortly after became Research Co-ordinator and manager of the NUIG aquaculture research lab at Carna until the end of 2015, managing large-scale projects, personnel and the facility itself.
While there, Richard supervised several PhDs on cod and wrasse, as well as many undergraduate projects. He also served as a member of State Boards, agencies, as an EU expert, and for various representative/consultative fora and trade organisations both nationally and internationally.
Richard has a long association with AquaTT, back to its foundation in 1991, when he compiled and submitted the original application for EU funding to establish the company to co-ordinate training for aquaculture throughout the EU. He was the first Chair of the company and served on the Board regularly over the past 20 years.
His research interests were quite broad including; the growth performance of finfish in response to critical rearing conditions and husbandry practices; growth modelling; feed utilisation and formation of social hierarchies in farmed fish populations; the development of novel dietary formulations for farmed fish; the immuno-competence of farmed stocks, and product characteristics and quality.
He published over 30 peer-reviewed papers and 100+ technical reports. Richard served as an external examiner at post-graduate (MSc & PhD) levels in Ireland and several EU countries. He was also extremely interested in natural freshwater and marine fish populations, with a rare and extensive knowledge in both aquatic environments developed over the span of his career.
Richard was an excellent researcher, a gifted and inspiring lecturer and extremely generous with his time, especially with students and colleagues. A scholar, a gentleman and a wonderful character, he often stated that his head was in Cork but his heart was in Kerry.
He had a library of expressions that he would draw on every now and again to spice up a conversation: “That wan would mind mice for you at the crossroads.”
In his youth and later in life he was an avid stamp collector, enjoyed music, travel, cooking and was insatiably curious. Wanting to try the world of business, he ventured into seafood processing in the early 2000s, and was well known in the English Market, Cork and by many top restaurants throughout the country to whom he supplied high-end specialist fish products.
Richard passed away following a short illness at University Hospital, Galway. He was the much loved husband of Frances, brother of Gilbert and Bernard and brother-in-law of Carol and Mary.
He is sadly missed by his stepsons John, Adam and Darragh, niece Hannah, nephew David and a whole legion of friends from many times and places. Those of us that were lucky to have known, loved and worked with Richard will fondly remember him with a smile. He was a great scientist, friend, teacher, mentor, listener and talker, who always had time for you. All of these qualities were tempered with a great integrity, humanity and a powerful wit.
Ni bheidh a leithead ann aris.