It’s funny the bits and pieces of Irish you remember from school: Níl aon tinteán mar do thinteán féin; tús maith leath na hoibre; mol an óige agus tiocfaidh sí. Though is there a seanfhocail more ubiquitous, more easily applied to almost anything life brings up, more seared into the collective Irish consciousness than this:
“Dá olc é saol an bhacaigh, is measa é saol Phádraig Mhic Dháibhéid.” Its translation, though I scarcely need to offer it, is, “As bad as the beggar’s life is, Pat Davitt’s life is even worse.”
Davitt is CEO of the Institute of Professional Auctioneers and Valuers (IPAV), “a modern, progressive and innovative institute,” it says, which represents the interests of auctioneers and estate agents across Ireland. He’s also a landlord who owns eight rental properties and half a shopping centre.
He didn’t mention that earlier this week when he made an intervention on behalf of landlords, apparently, badly hit by Ireland’s housing crisis.
“On the landlords' side – any of them getting very small rents for their properties and can't afford to pay their mortgages: they could well be protesting as well, but we don't hear that much from them. And they are being demonised in lots of cases.”
Former Fianna Fáil branch chairperson Davitt could well be protesting himself at the average monthly rent of €1,048 in his own county Westmeath. Plus he's being hit eight times over, given the size of his portfolio.
Since he wouldn’t tell us, nor was he asked, here’s what Pat Davitt and his wife, two of the lesser spoken-of victims of Ireland’s housing crisis, own.
- There’s the house in Edgeworthstown.
- The apartment in Athlone.
- A flat in Mullingar.
- And five houses in Castlepollard.
- There’s an industrial unit in rural Castlepollard.
- And there’s the commercial unit in the town of Castlepollard.
- Don’t forget: the half a shopping centre he owns in the town, which hosts a Tesco and eight other retailers.
If business remains slow on the property side, the couple also own €297,000 worth of Bank of Ireland shares through their company Davitt & Davitt Ltd.
Davitt knows how to keep the money counter running and Charlie Haughey himself recognised his fundraising efforts for Fianna Fáil.
In 1984 the late taoiseach personally presented Davitt with the Pat Fitzsimons Cup. This was in recognition of his work as chairperson of the Castlepollard Fianna Fáil branch where he managed to secure the single largest increase in the party’s 1983 national collection.
Pat’s nephew, Fianna Fáil senator and auctioneer Aidan Davitt, is another struggling landlord who lets out a few of his own properties to those in need. Aidan understands the risks that come with providing accommodation to the people of Westmeath having watched his pal and party colleague Robert Troy resign over his failure to declare his charitable efforts.
Pat Davitt, sadly, declined to comment.