THE former home of Ryanair founder Tony Ryan - now the home of his son Shane - was extensively damaged by fire yesterday.
Almost half the Georgian house on Kilboy Estate near Nenagh, Co Tipperary, acquired by Tony Ryan in the early 1980s, was gutted in the blaze but an extensive downstairs art collection was untouched.
The roof of the palatial residence which, with lands and outhouses is said to be worth well in excess of ?5m, suffered most damage although the fire was contained to one wing, comprising four to five rooms - around 21pc of the floor-space.
Security refused media permission to access the property but it is understood valuable artefacts in the house were removed undamaged.
The blaze was reported at around 4.20pm and four units of the fire services, drawn from Nenagh, Cloughjordan and Newport, attended the scene and quickly brought matters under control.
Chief Fire Officer Mr Dave Carroll described the fire as "extensive" but said it was too early to even speculate what may have caused it. Gardai are, however, expected to carry out a routine investigation.
The house was designed by renowned architect William Leeson and built by Henry Prettie - a son of a Cromwellian soldier - in the 1700s. He was later given the title Lord Dunally.
It is rated one of the finest examples of Georgian architecture in the county.
The house was burned during the War of Independence but later restored and bought in the 1950s by American businessman Norman Butler before Tony Ryan acquired it in the early 1980s.
He set about a massive refurbishment programme on the property, transforming it from a two-storey to single-storey property and also created a man-made lake near the gate-lodge.
Water from the same lake is understood to have been used by the fire services yesterday to extinguish the blaze.