JOHN Mulholland – the founder and boss of the Northern Ireland motor group that bore his name – has died from cancer at the age of 55.
With showrooms in Randalstown and Campsie, the successful firm scooped Skoda UK’s top retailer award for the third year last year – he is pictured above at the event. Mulholland, who had fought against the disease for 14 months and passed away on Saturday, was also a renowned rally racer.
John Mulholland Motors posted a tribute to him on its Facebook page, saying: ‘He turned his Matchbox cars into a real-life, award-winning, thriving car showroom, which he filled with love, energy and enthusiasm.
‘He rallied most of the roads in Ireland and further afield. He applied perfectionism and professionalism to everything he did yet somehow managed to have more fun than anyone.
‘Most importantly, he was a father and husband. Everything he did, every deal he made, every late hour spent at work was for his family who are now completely heartbroken.
‘If you ever had the pleasure of meeting John, you will know the impact he left on you and the room. His energy was infectious and his passion and charisma for what he did will remain infamous. [His] self-marketing campaigns will go down as the best in history.
‘John prided himself on treating every customer like a member of his own family, going the extra mile to make buying a car a memorable, joyful time. There was no greater compliment to John than a customer returning for their next car choice or referring a friend.
‘He thrived on bringing the best out in people, always rooting for the underdog and developing people to be the best versions of themselves.
‘John lived by the mantra of “support those who support you” and the Mulholland family would like to thank everyone that has supported them in the past 14 months, be it through well wishes, prayers or with his allegiance to Friends of the Cancer Centre.
‘A gentleman. A husband. A father.
‘May he rest in peace.’
Meanwhile, the British Rally Championship paid tribute saying: ‘A gentleman and a legend. We are saddened at the loss of John Mulholland, a massive supporter of the BRC and rallying as a whole. Our thoughts are with the Mulholland family at this difficult time.’
Other tributes were also paid on Twitter:
Winchester Skoda are deeply sad to hear of the passing of John Mulholland who recently lost his 14 month battle with cancer. John was founder of @MulhollandGroup with sites located in Northern Ireland. John was the life an soul of many a Skoda function and will be sadly missed.
— Winchester Skoda (@SkodaWinchester) August 20, 2019
— Stephen (@StephenGAWA) August 19, 2019
Ulster Rally team would like to extend their condolences to the family of John Mulholland who passed away on Saturday morning.
A real gentleman with a passion for motorsport and in particular the Ulster Rally, John will be sadly missed by all in the sport. pic.twitter.com/Z5LsU7XBUn
— Ulster Rally (@UlsterRally) August 20, 2019
The team at Friends of the Cancer Centre is deeply saddened by the passing of John Mulholland. We feel privileged to have had the opportunity to know John and we would like to send our heartfelt condolences to John’s wife Alicia and children Alicia, Shona, Anna and Johnnie. pic.twitter.com/Y8QXILcmrj
— Friends of the Cancer Centre (@FriendsCCNI) August 19, 2019
His funeral will be held this coming Thursday at St Oliver Plunkett Church in Toomebridge at midday to be followed by cremation at Roselawn Crematorium at 4pm. A further post on the John Mulholland Motor Group’s Facebook page says that as a mark of respect it will be closed for his funeral. In lieu of flowers, it asks people to support Friends of the Cancer Centre.
He is survived by his wife Alicia and their four children Alicia, Anna, Shona and Johnnie, as well as his twin brother Paul, brother Barry and father Dermot.
Mulholland, who had kidney cancer, established the dealership group more than 30 years ago.