Sunday 25 September 2016

Ireland's wealthiest landowners

Published 19/09/2016 | 02:30

John Magnier Picture: PA
John Magnier Picture: PA

The Irish Independent has learned that the land interests of John Magnier and his family now stretch to a staggering 9,500 acres. Swathes of land from Cork to Kildare have been acquired in recent years.

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Based on the acreage, it is believed that the billionaire's family is pulling down more than €300,000 a year in taxpayer-funded subsidies.

Much of Magnier's wealth has been generated by his massively successful horse breeding stud, Coolmore, which in turn owns large stud farms in Australia and Kentucky. His extensive business interests are said to be worth €2.2bn, with a €60m-valued home in Marbella as well as a lakeside home in Geneva. He also has an art collection reputed to be worth over €70m.

The landbank could well be Ireland's largest.

Michael O'Leary

The Ryanair owner has become a successful horse breeder from his Gigginstown stable, with the Westmeath farm now regarded as one of the finest National Hunt operations in Ireland. His horse Rule The World gave the tycoon his first ever Grand National winner earlier this year. The management company responsible for the stud farm is Tillingdale, of which O'Leary and his wife Anita are the only directors.

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary Picture: Tony Gavin
Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary Picture: Tony Gavin

Gigginstown is also home to a period mansion for good measure. O'Leary's seriousness in the horse racing industry was underlined in 2014 when he bought a 210-acre site close to Newmarket racecourse in the UK. Mr O'Leary hosts an annual auction of his herd at the Gigginstown farm, where cattle can sell for upwards of €3,000.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum

Kildare may seem like an odd place for a member of the royal family of the United Arab Emirates to pitch up, but horse enthusiast Sheikh Maktoum is the owner of Derrinstown in Maynooth, which contains 11 separate farms. The Sheikh's Irish operation also includes Kildangan Stud as well as Ballysheehan in Co Tipperary, making him a near neighbour of Ireland's most renowned horse breeder, John Magnier. Maktoum also has a huge 3,200-acre farm in Kentucky in the US.

John Malone

Before the Irish-American billionaire began building his Irish property portfolio with high profile purchases of the Hilton Hotel and the Trinity Capital Hotel in Dublin, he began with buying the gargantuan Humewood Castle in Co Wicklow. The site sits on 400 acres and was purchased after his wife expressed her admiration for the place.

The TV3 owner has since added the 840-acre Ballylinch Stud at Thomastown, Co Kilkenny, once part of Mount Juliet, to his portfolio. If that seems like quite the estate to tend to, bear in mind that Malone reputedly owns over two million acres across the Atlantic in the state of Maine.

Humewood Castle, Co Wicklow, now owned by American billionaire John Malone
Humewood Castle, Co Wicklow, now owned by American billionaire John Malone

Malone went on to buy Anthony O'Reilly's former estate in Castlemartin, Co Kildare, in 2014 for €30m. The purchase included 750 acres of stud land.

He told CNN a couple of years ago: "For 400 years, the Irish farmed land that was owned by English landlords. The farmer's existence was temporary, transitional. I'm not a believer in mystical things, but I am a believer in evolution, and there could well be some element of generational memory that goes into this kind of stuff. I actually do believe that there may be a genetic element in wanting to own the land you're on."

It was announced this month that Mr Malone's Liberty Media group was to purchase Formula 1 for a fee of €3.9bn.

The Duke of Devonshire

Lismore Castle, the Duke of Devonshire's family home in County Waterford
Lismore Castle, the Duke of Devonshire's family home in County Waterford

Owner of the 8,000-acre Lismore Estate in Co Waterford, the Duke of Devonshire's Lismore Castle is available to rent for private individuals at a cool €50,000 per week. The castle's garden can be used by members of the public, however.

The castle is the former home of Sir Walter Raleigh and was acquired by the Duke of Devonshire's predecessors through marriage in 1753. The Duke of Devonshire also owns extensive holdings in the UK, and counts Chatsworth House, Derbyshire and Bolton Abbey in Yorkshire among an impressively grand portfolio.

Irish Independent

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