Liam St John Devlin
Grand Cross of St Sylvester, 5 June, 1976
Liam, who died at his home in Baltimore, Co Cork, was a well-known – although notably modest – member of a significant generation of 20th-century business leaders, and was closely associated with Irish commercial life and with public service in his native county and country for over half a century. Born in Cork, he was the eldest of 10 children of George Devlin and Mary Atkins. After attending Christian Brothers College, he went to University College Cork at the age of 16 on a scholarship and took his MSc in chemistry there at the age of 20. Thereafter, he did a H.Dip.Ed. and taught in a vocational school for a year. He then became managing director of Melina, the family cosmetic business which had been founded by his mother, and which continued in existence until his father’s death in 1970. After the government took over the British and Irish Steam Packet Company in 1965, and renamed it B&I, he was appointed its chairman, and he remained in that position until 1974, when he was appointed executive chairman of CIE, a position he held for the following decade. A particularly significant appointment was to the board of the Munster and Leinster Bank and, following its merger with two other banks, he became deputy chairman of the new entity, Allied Irish Banks, in 1974. He remained in this role until his retirement from that position in 1992. He retained close ties with his native city and helped Bishop Lucey of Cork in the establishment of a mission in Peru.