O'Leary flies in for Ryan book launch
RYANAIR boss Michael O'Leary made a brief stopover at a private lunch in Dublin to launch a new biography of the founder of the airline, Tony Ryan.
The book, written by the historian Richard Aldous, is an authorised biography and is based on the late Mr Ryan's private papers and on interviews with family, friends and former colleagues.
'Tony Ryan: Ireland's Aviator' charts the rise and fall and rise again of one of Ireland's greatest entrepreneurs, who ran GPA, the international aviation leasing company based in Shannon, and then started Ryanair.
At the launch yesterday, author Aldous said: "The thrill in writing this book was the unique access to Tony Ryan's papers and the opportunity to meet the characters he worked with. Tony Ryan was an intensely private man, but this was a chance to see inside the head of one of Ireland's most influential entrepreneurs – the man who revolutionised the way we travel."
Among those attending the private lunch were members of the Ryan family, including Tony Ryan's son Declan and granddaughter Danielle, and some well-known names from the aviation industry. These included former GPA executives PJ McGoldrick, Gerry Power and Michael Lillis, who later played a prominent role in Foreign Affairs, as well as Mr O'Leary, who started off as personal assistant to Mr Ryan.
Mr O'Leary did not make a speech at the launch but says in the book that "Tony Ryan was one of the great Irishmen of the 20th Century. His vision and tenacity are what Ireland needs more than ever today".
The biography traces the emergence of Mr Ryan's entrepreneurial spirit, from his first job as a member of the Aer Lingus ground staff at Shannon airport, to the highs and lows of a career that saw him build two businesses that transformed international aviation and made him a vast personal fortune.
Following his death in October 2007, Mr Ryan was lauded for his immense contribution to the Irish economy but he had come close to losing everything in 1992 when GPA imploded.
Ryanair, the small airline he set up in the 1980s, provided an escape route. He put Mr O'Leary in charge and the rest is history.