Tributes paid to ‘inspirational’ chef Colin O’Daly who has died aged 70

Co-founder of Roly’s Bistro died on Friday at Cork University Hospital

Tributes have been paid to Colin O’Daly, the well-known former chef and co-founder of Roly’s Bistro in Dublin, who died on Friday at Cork University Hospital after a short illness, aged 70.

From Glasnevin in Dublin, Mr O’Daly, who began his career as a commis chef in Dublin Airport before going to on to make his reputation at Ashford Castle, The Park Hotel in Kenmare and his own Park restaurant in Blackrock, Co Dublin, had been living in recent years in Bantry in Co Cork with his partner Sarah Falla.

Since retiring from the restaurant business as one of the country’s best-known chefs, Mr O’Daly had established a reputation as a well-regarded painter and had had a number of successful exhibitions.

His early career progression was hit more than once by his poor health and he suffered a good deal of family tragedy over the course of his life but he continued to work, building a reputation as one of the country’s leading high-end restaurateurs.


His work in the kitchen earned him a Michelin star both at The Park Hotel and at his own venture, The Park in Dublin, which thrived for a time in the 1980s before suffering the effect of a sudden economic downturn.

By that point he had invested heavily in a new premises and the restaurant’s collapse left him with large debts. He subsequently found himself signing on for a time before starting to work again, initially for others and then at Roly’s which he helped to establish in 1992.

The restaurant, in which he owned a substantial stake, became a major success and he held a smaller share in a related business in Palm Beach, Florida.

He started painting, suggesting at one point it was a new artistic outlet for him now that his cooking was a little less cutting-edge. Having retired more than a decade ago from the restaurant business, he devoted most of his time to art in recent years.

In an interview with the the Sunday Independent in 2002, he said his “passion for cooking was motivated, driven, by something else: proving I was as good as anybody else. I may not have the education, but, hey, I was determined to come out on top. And that has its own self-destructive mechanism.”

Among the many warm tributes paid to him over the weekend, Ross Lewis of Chapter One and Osteria Lucio described him as a “gentle soul, an artist and inspirational chef” and remembered him for his “cheeky grin and sense of humour”.

He is predeceased by his sons Conor and Stephen, both of whom died in childhood from conditions related to cystic fibrosis, and survived by his partner Sarah Falla, his daughter Anna, son Owen, brother Ronan, and sisters Gemma and Angela.

Mr O’Daly will be buried at Abbey Cemetery on Tuesday after Requiem Mass at noon at St Joseph’s Church, Coomhola, Bantry.

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone is Work Correspondent at The Irish Times