A SURGE in share values at three leading Irish companies has bucked the economic trend and made small fortunes for their key executives -- as well as some farmers, small businessmen and pensioners.
The companies have made paper millions for those who were lucky enough to own or buy shares over the past few years, despite the depths of recession.
Shares at corporate giant Ryanair have recovered strongly too but have not yet returned to their pre-crash peak.
The Paddy Power share price has surged by nearly 270pc since the end of 2008 -- making paper profits of tens of millions of euro for shareholders.
Investors in dairy giant Glanbia have benefited from the boom in the agriculture sector which has flourished despite the economic gloom. Its share price has risen more than 200pc in under four years.
And Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary's 51 million shares in the budget airline are now worth €220m, having grown in value by 70pc since 2008.
While most of the shareholders are directors and executives, the Irish Independent's investigation has found that farmers, small businessmen and pensioners are making significant paper profits from their investments.
Paddy Power, Glanbia and Ryanair all suffered significant share-price falls in line with the global economic crisis in 2008.
But all three have enjoyed strong recoveries since then -- at a time when so many companies have struggled with the effects of the recession.
The downturn of recent years hasn't stopped all three companies from prospering, with their share prices rising in line with their success.
Paddy Power has embraced online betting and gaming and expanded into new markets around the world.
Glanbia is benefiting from the boom in the agriculture sector and has branched out with lucrative new products.
Ryanair's no-frills approach has kept the carrier profitable despite the economic downturn and rising fuel prices.
Paddy Power is the star performer on the Irish Stock Exchange.
Its share price is now worth 20 times its value when it first floated 12 years ago.
The share value has soared to around €48 in recent weeks as revenues approached €500m and the company reported pre-tax profits of €121.2m last year.
David Power, the bookmaker who loaned his family name to the company when it was founded almost 25 years ago, has watched as the value of his shares grew to €145m up to March 28.
Other members of the Power family held a combined €25m in shares while Paddy Power co-founders John Corcoran and Stewart Kenny had shareholdings worth €71m and €20m respectively.
Kilkenny-based Glanbia, behind such dairy brands as Avonmore and Yoplait, had revenues of €2.2bn and made a profit of €112.8m last year.
Former managing director Pat O'Neill, along with his wife Rosanna, had a combined €3m worth of shares that day.
The Glanbia shareholding of Neal Duggan, from Dundrum in Dublin, has grown to €2.2m.
Other shareholders include Mount St Joseph's monastery in Roscrea, Co Tipperary, with shares valued at €92,000; and Junior Agriculture Minister Shane McEntee, who held €10,000 worth of shares, according to the register.
In all, there were 140 named shareholders on Glanbia's register with more than €100,000 worth of shares, including five paper millionaires.
At the end of 2011, Ryanair announced half-year profits of €543.5m.
Just last February, farmer Thomas Murphy from Cork sold 300,000 Ryanair shares to the tune of €1.2m.
Disgraced Irish Nationwide boss Michael Fingleton had €8,640 worth of shares.