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Shepherd's Pie Mordaunt, George

ISBN: 9781856358446


For the first time since the Irish financial meltdown comes a book not from an economist or a journalist, but from a self-employed Irishman who found himself in the eye of the storm. Ireland is insolvent because of mismanagement, corruption and greed. We have been bombarded with and infuriated by reports of self-serving bankers, developers and government ministers.


To date, the general public has not had an account of the devastating effect of this crisis on Irish-owned business as it tries to pick up the pieces. Irish businesses are trying to cope with insolvency, arrears, liquidation — the rate of suicide among the self-employed in Ireland has trebled in the last 3 years. George Mordaunt believes that many Irish businesses are now dysfunctional not because of the recession but because of the reaction of business owners to the recession — and specifically their reaction to their banks. With raw honesty he outlines the effect this reaction has had on himself, his young family, his marriage and his business.

He shares his most private moments of despair and fear yet demonstrates how business owners can salvage their businesses and that we now have a core responsibility to get back to basics in all levels of Irish life.





I first met George Mordaunt a few years ago, when he expressed an interest in our work with disadvantaged children and offered to help by raising a substantial investment for Barnardos. To be honest, I thought at first he was a bit flash, every inch the Celtic Tiger entrepreneur. But he was clearly a totally committed family man and a loving parent, and that reflected itself in the sincerity of his commitment to Barnardos.

When we agreed to partner up, George immediately set about introducing an innovative way of linking financial support for a good cause with car sales. The day we launched the scheme (typical George!) he had organised a whirlwind of local publicity and advertising to back it up. Barnardos was heavily profiled, but so was the Mordaunt Group- a real win-win situation.

Throughout the years we've worked together, Ive never known anything about Georges private struggles, or indeed the demons he was grappling with. So it came as a real shock to sit down and read this book. It is the most searingly honest account Ive read anywhere about what it was like to ride the Tiger - and ultimately to be almost devoured by it.
This is a book that deserves to be read by everyone who has lived through the highs and lows of the last fifteen years. It is totally gripping in its honesty, to the point of being painful at times. George might seem pretty brash on the outside, but he is clearly a man only too well aware of his own failings. In that sense, he blames himself as much as anyone else for the cocksureness that almost destroyed him.

But he has a lot of advice to offer in the book. It is advice based on the lessons he knows he should have learned, and its advice that has made him a lot happier since he stopped trying to be king of the hill. Its advice that is worth following in a lot of walks of life.

Its unusual to finish a book like this - I found it hard to tear myself away from it - and find yourself reflecting that youve also been privy to a warm and decent love story. Georges relationship with his parents, and especially with his wife and children, is just that, and its beautifully written about here.
Now, if I had one bit of advice for the reader of this book, it is this. Stop reading this foreword right now, and get stuck into one of the best books youre ever likely to read about what went wrong in our country and why. Oh, and by the way, how to come out of it all as a better, stronger person.

Fergus Finlay


Save the sob story. We want our money. If that means taking your family home, we'll do it.

I was stunned. Couldnt believe what I was hearing. This banker, playing with words, puffing his chest out in a display of ego and bravado, telling me how ruthless he would be with my home, my livelihood, my life. My shocked and fearful reaction was probably nothing new to him, and the more I pleaded and tried to rationalise, the more powerful he became.

Fifteen hours later I lay in bed feeling nauseous and gripped with fear. My home was at stake. This was an assault on my inner sanctum. I was deeply upset, in absolute turmoil. My heart was pounding so hard I could hear it in my chest, my mind actively replaying the scene in the banks boardroom that morning. My mental health had been under attack for months, but so far I had held it together. To lose that battle now would have devastating effects on my wife and kids, my extended family, my business and employees. People were depending on me. Losing it wasnt an option. I knew that I was emotionally and financially broken and that the family business that I had cherished was on the brink.

My heart was pounding faster, but that feeling had become familiar. These episodes were becoming much more frequent and each one was more intense than the last. I got up and walked to the window. I started talking to myself, trying to calm my racing heartbeat. It wasnt working and I wondered if I should call my wife to tell her that I thought I was having a heart attack and ask her to call an ambulance. But I found that I had absentmindedly wandered into my sons bedroom. I needed to be close to my kids and that was calming me down.

My eight-year-old son lay there sleeping, so innocent and oblivious to everything that was going on in the world. I gazed down at him and thought about another man, my age, who I had known very well. His kids were the same age as mine and he had lost his battle with control and fear one evening. It was a tragedy that affected the entire community, not to mention the trauma for his own family. I couldnt let that happen, but bizarrely I found myself imagining that it had. I sat on the side of my sons bed and imagined my own funeral, with my son and my daughter walking behind a hearse. I wondered whether I was losing my mind but knew I wasnt. I allowed the pain of the image to take hold and then something I wasnt expecting happened. Anger started to emerge from the pit of my stomach. Fury. I screamed to myself  are you going to let those fuckers deprive these children of their father? Are you going to allow them to attack your family and everything that your family has created? Are you going to let them inside the gates of your home or are you going to meet them head on and tell them to fuck off?
Suddenly I realised that that was exactly what I had to do. I wondered how many other people lie awake at night with the same fears? How many people are on the verge of losing everything? I am not alone. Sitting there in my sons bedroom at 3.45 a.m., I could finally think clearly. I was going to have to fight this even harder. Lose the fear and stand up to those bullies in their open-collared shirts and rolled-up sleeves. I would never forgive myself if I didnt. If I managed to hang in there, I would never allow this to happen again, and if I ended up losing everything anyway, I would be proud that I had taken a stand, spoken out and could with hand on heart look my kids in the eye and say that I did everything in my power to save our home and livelihood.

My fight would start back at the office within five hours when I began to actively change my mindset to fight back. A short time later I confronted the bank that had my family home in its sights. I stood behind my desk, picked up the phone and dialled. While staring at a photo sitting on my desk of my wife Anne, my daughter Emily and my son George, I laid down the gauntlet. Listen to me very carefully. I refuse to let you or any other bank force my wife and children to walk behind a hearse, so do your worst but dont ever call me again.
I put the phone down, stood in silence staring at it for about twenty seconds, then turned to a colleague who was in the room with me and said, Whats next?

Chapter 1
Life through the Lens
of 1986

Youth is, after all, just a moment, but it is the moment, the spark, that you always carry in your heart. Raisa Gorbachev 

Born to Brian and Bridie Mordaunt in November 1967 in St Josephs Hospital, Clonmel, I was the second-eldest of four children. I had two sisters, Lizanne and Claire, and one brother, Brian. I was raised in Clonmel and continue to reside there today. Outside of school, life was reasonably ordinary. I had a loving family and I have fond memories of my childhood, notwithstanding my schooldays. My parents were loving, supportive and protective, as well as being relatively well off- we were lucky enough to be able to have a family holiday abroad almost every year.

My schooldays were certainly not the best days of my life. I hated school with a passion. I dreaded going to school and looking back now I still remember just how much. My years at the hands of the Irish educational system proved to be disastrous, to the point where I still feel bitterly let down. To this day I have to control my feelings towards the institution, indeed sometimes even towards teachers themselves. I was schooled at the CBS primary and secondary schools in Kickham Street, Clonmel. I think there must have been an academic ranking system for the classes and I seemed to have been consigned to one of the lower grades. I failed almost every exam that I ever took. In fifth year in secondary school I remember sitting at my desk wondering if I was slow. What makes a fifteen-year-old boy consider that? The answer is that the ranking system had failed me and that failure would go on to make a definite impact on my future business life.

When I was seven years old my primary-school teacher asked me to think of a word that began with the letter G. Given my name, you would think that it would have been no problem for me, but my mind went blank and I couldnt think of anything. As punishment for this, the teacher insisted that I put on a dress and stand at the front of the class where everybody could see me. The rest of the class thought it was hilarious, but I can still feel the hurt and humiliation I suffered that day. Why would somebody do that to a child? Did I irritate her? What was her agenda? Later, the teacher insisted that I keep my mouth shut about this and never tell my parents. She must have known that she had overstepped the mark. Of course, like thousands of kids before me, on the instruction of an authority figure I did exactly what I was told and never said a word.

Some weeks later my best friend at the time told my mother this hilarious story. She was furious and later challenged all parties involved, but for me it was too late. The incident had deprived me of every morsel of self-confidence. In that one moment I was robbed of my education. That was the severity of the impact of that episode. Even today, when I think about it, it angers me and I know irrefutably that the incident not only affected my childhood and education, but also the path I followed in my adult life, because I was branded that day. Branded as stupid, laughable, and as a result I clammed up every time I was asked a question at school. It became habitual. Hence I was perceived as stupid and I believed I was stupid. That is how I was made to feel and it became my status for my entire school career.




ISBN 9781856358446



  • Shepherd's Pie