This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (MUP), 2007
Patrick Charles Mitchell (Paddy) Fitzgerald (1896-1984), businessman, was born on 21 June 1896 at Rockhampton, Queensland, eldest of seven children of Charles Borromeo Fitzgerald, a Queensland-born barrister, and his wife Joan Mary, née Cahill, who came from Ireland. Thomas Henry Fitzgerald was `Paddy’s’ grandfather. Educated by the Christian Brothers at Rockhampton, he left school at 14 to work as a shipping clerk with Walter Reid & Co. Ltd. After his father’s death in 1913 he helped to support his mother and siblings. On 6 April 1931 at St Joseph’s Catholic Church, Rockhampton, he married Eugenie McDowall (d.1979).
In about 1933, after a failed business venture, Fitzgerald began work with Castlemaine Perkins Ltd, Milton, Brisbane, where his paternal aunt’s husband, J. N. Devoy, was managing director. The company, producer of XXXX Bitter Ale, then commanded 10 per cent of the Queensland beer market. At first a travelling sales representative on the Queensland coast, Fitzgerald was promoted to sales manager in 1942 and joined the board in 1951. Becoming general manager in 1970, he oversaw the modernisation of the company’s existing Brisbane city and suburban hotels and the construction of new ones in developing outer areas. When in March 1977 the firm decided to discontinue supplying beer in wooden casks, concerned patrons of Brisbane’s historic Breakfast Creek Hotel asked Fitzgerald to intervene. After he announced at the hotel that the brewery would continue to supply Breakfast Creek with gravity-fed beer off the wood, thirty-six jubilant waterside workers hoisted their pint-sized hero on top of three 10-gallon (45 litre) kegs and the public bar became the `Paddy Fitzgerald Bar’.
Fitzgerald was named managing director in 1977. Clever marketing encouraged the perception that XXXX was the State’s brew of choice and, after decades representing the product, Fitzgerald came to be seen as synonymous with Little Mr Fourex, the diminutive, jaunty, suited figure with one thumb up, a wide smile and a wink, and a boater brandishing four big Xs, who appeared on Castlemaine’s bottles and cans. Although they shared similar dimensions and demeanour, any resemblance was coincidental; the cartoonist Ian Gall [q.v.] had reputedly conceived Mr Fourex in 1924.
A conservative manager, Fitzgerald emphasised the importance of a good product and of staff loyalty. He regarded Castlemaine workers and long-term licensees as family, and recruited executives almost entirely from within the company. Only after he retired as managing director in February 1979 did the board announce (in November) a merger with Tooheys Ltd. When he stepped down in 1981 as a director of Castlemaine Tooheys Ltd, it was Queensland’s second largest publicly listed company and XXXX enjoyed a 75 per cent share of the State’s beer market.
A keen Rugby League player, rower and swimmer in his youth, Fitzgerald was also a member and several times president of the Booroodabin Bowls Club. He was known for his impish sense of humour. On 10 September 1984 he died at his Bardon home; he was buried in Nudgee cemetery. Two sons and four daughters survived him; one daughter had died in infancy.
Mark McGinness, 'Fitzgerald, Patrick Charles Mitchell (Paddy) (1896–1984)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/fitzgerald-patrick-charles-mitchell-paddy-12497/text22485, published first in hardcopy 2007, accessed online 21 December 2014.
This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (MUP), 2007