Padraic Fallon 1946–2012: A life in friendship

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When Padraic Fallon turned 60, his family and friends worked with Euromoney to produce a private, slightly tongue-in-cheek issue of the magazine. The contributions written by his closest friends and colleagues for that project provide a fitting tribute to the man, his life and his achievements.

Padraic Fallon was born in County Wexford in 1946, the sixth and youngest son of the poet Padraic and Dorothea.

He brought his childhood to life in his first book, A Hymn of the Dawn, published in 2003, which gave a fictionalized account of his formative years in southeast Ireland, the mysteries and magic of the countryside and its people and, notably, his father, as well as his five brothers.

He was educated at St Peter’s College Wexford, Blackrock College Dublin and Trinity College Dublin.

He began his career in 1969 in the City of London office of Thomson as a financial reporter, before joining the Daily Mirror in 1970.

Two years later he made two decisions that changed his life for ever: he joined the City desk of the Daily Mail and he married Gillian, to whom he remained wed for 40 years.

According to Patrick Sergeant, who founded Euromoney in 1969 and was the City editor of the Mail, the two decisions were not unrelated: “We owe it all to Gillian Fallon. But for her, and his ardent wish to marry her, Padraic might not have left the comfort of the Daily Mirror City office in 1972. He suspected that his future father-in-law thought not much of journalists and nothing at all of the Daily Mirror. Accordingly, he came to see me as City editor of the Daily Mail, concealing the above but revealing the charm that was later to sell a thousand pages, and his admiration for the Mail and me. It was the beginning of a 40-year friendship that I cherish.”

A close colleague during those early days on the Daily Mail was another celebrated financial journalist starting out in his career, Neil Collins, who recalls: “Padraic Fallon was an accidental journalist. Unlike the rest of us in the Daily Mail City office, he never seemed overawed by the business he found himself in. Looking back, it was a pretty whacky business: impossibly glamorous from the outside, crazily illogical on the inside.”

Those formative years helped to mould the mantra of the Fallon career: work hard and play hard. Collins recalls one incident: “There was too much time for mischief, especially when Patrick Sergeant was away and the unfortunate Peter Wainwright was in charge. We were awful. Peter would return from a lunch of Worthingtons White Shield, and with a manic, passing insult for the rest of us, pull the chair out from under his chaotic desk.

“One day Padraic Sellotaped the chair to the piles of papers, torn bits of newspaper, documents and debris on the desk. Peter returned from lunch, leered at us and yanked at the chair. The effect was truly impressive, almost burying him in piles of scrappy notes, long-forgotten bits of biscuit, books and copies of Guns ’n’ Ammo. Peter’s already florid face went an even deeper shade of crimson under his white hair.”

After two years in the Mail’s City office, Sergeant decided he had other plans for Fallon. In 1974, Padraic was despatched to Beirut to edit the title Middle East Money, or MEMO. It was a steep learning curve in many ways.

Patrick Sergeant says: “It was, he said later, probably the most formative experience of his life. MEMO was a joint venture with a Lebanese gentleman called Marwan Iskandar, who was so nice that he never told you any unwelcome news, just the stuff he thought you wanted to hear. Padraic slaved away in the heat and with breakdowns at the typesetters when the electricity went off at 3 in the morning. The deadline was that the film must catch the 11.40 am MEA flight for London Heathrow on Fridays. That meant a 24-hour stretch without sleep or rest from dawn on Thursday. After he took the film to the airport, he would collapse into bed, to be woken by me on the telephone, shouting: “WHERE’S MEMO?”

“At Heathrow by now,” he’d say. “No, it’s not,” I’d say, rather cross – though not as cross as he was with his colleague in Beirut. “Don’t worry,” said Marwan. “It’ll be all right next week.” After three weeks of me bellowing at him down the phone, Padraic went directly to MEA and checked. There was no 11.40 flight to Heathrow. There never had been. “Never mind,” said Marwan, “they may put one on.”

After a brief return to the Mail’s City desk, Sergeant asked Fallon to move to Euromoney to become its new editor in 1974. In its five years to then, Euromoney magazine had become a respected and successful publication documenting the growth of the international capital markets. Under Fallon, it took off to reach unimagined heights.

Sergeant says: “Apart from starting the magazine in 1969, it was the best thing I ever did for Euromoney. He changed Euromoney out of recognition, focusing on the international markets and the extraordinary mixture of people who dominated them.”

In the 1970s, Hans-Joerg Rudloff was one of those bankers trying to build the international bond markets. Now chairman of investment banking at Barclays, Rudloff recalls the part Fallon played in their development: “The Genillards, Guts, Hambros, Yassukovichs, Stancliffs, Cravens, von Clemms and many others were tireless salesmen travelling the world and, like missionaries, spreading the gospel of the free capital markets and their benefits.

“They would not have succeeded without someone like Padraic Fallon, who believed in the idea. Padraic lent his intelligence, relentless enthusiasm and energy to the objective to help to spread the word. He managed to advance the cause without making compromises, and believed when others doubted. He did not take refuge in the generally accepted ideas of the world and its organisation but helped to promote financial activity that was considered unorthodox or even revolutionary.