Tuesday 27 September 2016

Widow of Ryanair founder passes away after short illness

Published 29/09/2015 | 02:30

The late founder of Ryanair and GPA, Tony Ryan
The late founder of Ryanair and GPA, Tony Ryan

The funeral will take place today of Mairead Ryan, the widow of the late Ryanair tycoon Tony Ryan.

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Mrs Ryan, who was in her late 70s, passed away peacefully following a short illness.

She is survived by her children, Declan and Shane, her sister Ann and 11 grandchildren.

She is predeceased by her son, Cathal, who died six years ago from cancer at the age of 48.

Mrs Ryan was the childhood sweetheart of Tony Ryan and the couple married in the mid-1960s, before moving to the United States.

There Tony worked as Aer Lingus station manager at New York's JFK Airport.

The couple separated when their three sons were still very young, but they never divorced and they maintained an amic- able relationship.

In her death notice, Mrs Ryan was described as Tony's "beloved wife".

When he died in 2007, he left her more than €20m in his will, while also leaving €6m to his most recent partner, Martine Head.

It was Mrs Ryan who organised Tony's low-key funeral, which was a family-only occ-asion.

Like her husband, Mrs Ryan was a native of Thurles, Co Tipperary, and her funeral will take place today at the Cath-edral of the Assumption in the town.

Tony Ryan's fortune was based on an aircraft-leasing business he established in a small office in the Shannon Tax Free zone in 1975 called Guinness Peat Aviation.

The company grew to become the biggest airline leasing company in the world, known as GPA.

At its height, its board included Garret FitzGerald, Peter Sutherland, former Irish ambassador to the US Sean Donlon, John Harvey Jones and a raft of other blue chip directors. Mr Ryan then established Ryanair for his sons.

The fledgling airline lost tens of millions and Mr Ryan was almost bankrupted when GPA collapsed in 1993.

However, the arrival of Mich-ael O'Leary and businessman Denis O'Brien saved the air- line and renewed Ryan's fortune.

Mr Ryan, whose father was a train driver from Boherlahan, Co Tipperary, was an admirer of fine art and spent millions restoring Lyons Demesne, which he bought from Michael Smurfit.

Irish Independent

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