Farm Ireland

Tuesday 20 March 2018

Revealed: The richest agri-business people in Ireland

Pearse Lyons
Pearse Lyons

Eoghan MacConnell

Agriculture has maintained a strong showing in the Sunday Independent rich list with food producers, a number of beef processors and animal health companies making the list. 

Farmers and agribusiness owners were named as the richest people in counties Wexford, Waterford, Louth, Kildare and Tyrone. 

Louth’s Alltech founder Pearse Lyons (73) and his family emerged as the wealthiest people in Louth and the fifth richest people in the country with a €3.5 billon fortune, up €200 million on 2017. Mr Lyons, a brewing and biochemistry graduate, began his career with Harp Lager in Dundalk.  

Applying his scientific knowledge to animal feed, Mr Lyons set up Alltech 37 years ago. The company now has a global reach and employs around 3,500 people worldwide. More recently, Mr Lyons has invested in a new Dublin whiskey distillery. His son Mark heads up the company’s business in China. 

Ned Guinness

Ned Guinness, also known as Lord Iveagh, of the renowned Guinness family appears at number 20 on the rich list. Kildare born Mr Guinness is one of the largest landowners in the UK and grows vast quantities of potatoes and onions on his 22,500 acres Elveden Estate in Suffolk.

t’s estimated that 10pc of all onions eaten in the UK are produced at the estate. His land holdings include a farm in Co Meath, while his other interests include shares in Diageo. He is a signficant backer of Irish firm Blueface, which provides internet based phone services in Europe and the US. The rich list estimates his worth at €848m, up from €768m in 2017.  

Larry Goodman

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Beef baron Larry Goodman’s position on the rich list remains unchanged at number 22. His ABP group acquired a 50pc stake in Slaney Meats in 2016.

Larry Goodman. Photo: Tom Burke

Mr Goodman, who was the largest recipient of farm subsidies in 2016 (€431,000) has grown his fortune from €780m in 2017 to €820m this year.

Cleary family

The Cleary Family are next on the list at number 23, down three places on last year with a fortune of €800m, €50m less than the €850m reported in 2017. Meath man Eamon Cleary, who passed away in 2012 aged 53, began his career as a farmer before making money through property and telecoms. In the 1990s he moved to New Zealand where he got into dairy farming just as the market was taking off. His family is believed to have donated large sums of money to charity.

Bert Allen

Up two places on last year and now at number 24 on the rich list is Bert Allen and family, who have amassed a €595m fortune to become the wealthiest people in Co Wexford. Bert Allen and family boosted their fortune with the sale of a 50pc stake in Slaney Foods to Larry Goodman's ABP in 2016. 

Haughey family

The family of the later entrepreneur Eddie Haughey appear on the rich list at number 33. Mr Haughey, or Lord Ballyedmond, was killed in a helicopter crash in 2014. The Louth born entrepreneur made his fortune through animal health and veterinary products. The Haughey family are estimated to be worth €468m. 

Queally Brothers

On top of the list in Co Waterford are brothers Peter and John Queally, who along with Dan Browne set up Dawn Meats in 1980. They are in 59th place on the list with a reported worth of €295m, up from €270m on 2017. The privately owned company handles about 20pc of Ireland’s beef.

Dan Tierney

At number 64 on the list is Dan Tierney, who set up Bimeda animal healthcare business.  The company’s estimated turnover is €160m and it has 800 employees around the world. Mr Tierney’s wealth is listed as €248m. 

Keating family

The Keating family are in 83rd place on the list with an estimated value of €182m. The family of the late Noel Keating, who set up Kepak in Clonee, Co Meath in 1981, employ an estimated 3,000 people across 30 countries and produce products such as Big Als.

Kepak sign.jpg

Mr Keating’s family has invested in property, restaurants and bought a factory owned by Moy Park in 2017.  


The McCann family is in 99th place on the list with a worth of €155m. The one-time owners of Fyffes are expanding their US interests with the Carl McCann headed company, Total Price, purchasing 50pc of Californian firm, The Fresh Connection.

Joseph Brennan

Brennans Bread

Brennans bread founder Joseph Brennan appears at 106 on the list with a worth of €148m, up from €140m last year.  

Jim and Jack Dobson

At number 112 in the list, Tyrone’s richest men Jim and Jack Dobson, whose wealth is estimated at €140m. They sold the Irish assets of Tyrone based Dunbia to Dawn Meats last year. At number 116 on the rich list with €132m, is the McHugh family, who operated the Atlantic Dawn fishing business in Donegal. 


The McHale family, who had a general store in Mayo since the 1920s, appear at number 128 on the list having amassed €120m through McHale Engineering. Padraic and Martin McHale started manufacturing silage block cutters and slurry pumps in the 1980s and from this, McHale Engineering was founded.

McHale is adding to its growing grass portfolio with a new rake line

It has grown to be one of the leading international manufacturers of specialist agricultural farm machinery with its headquarters in Ballinrobe on a 30-acre plus site, they recently completed a 200,000-sq ft expansion.

Tony Barry and family of Barry’s tea are on the list at number 127, with a fortune worth €120m. 

Supermacs founder Pat McDonagh, who bought a 19th century house and 135 acre Galway farm for €3.2m in 2016, is number 140 on the rich list with an estimated €110m.  


The Keeling family, who are now the largest fruit and veg producers and seller in the country, make the 163rd spot on the list with an estimated worth of €100m.

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Caroline Keeling, CEO of Keelings

Dan Browne

Dan Browne and his family, owners of 30pc of Dawn Meats are 169th on the list with a fortune estimated to be worth €96m. 

Raymond Hutchinson

At 173 on the rich list, Manderley Food Group owner Raymond Hutchinson and his family are reportedly worth €95m, down €5m on 2017. Manderley became the largest producer of snack foods in the UK when it purchased Tavern Snacks and a 75pc shareholding in Portlebay in 2017.

Declan Gallagher

Declan Gallagher, whose Donegal-headquartered Promise Gluten Free sold a majority stake to a private equity firm is at number 192 on the list with a worth of €80m. Mr Gallagher started the business in 2011 and ships produce to Australia and the US.

Wayne Acheson

Next on the list with an estimated worth of €69m, at number 214 on the list is Wayne Acheson, whose Derry based meat processor Foyle Food Group employs over 1,000 people across nine facilities.


At 241 Chanelle McCoy and family are worth €52m. Vet Michael Burke set up generic veterinary drugs manufacturing business in Co Galway in 1985. The business, Chanelle Group, has sales of over €100m.

Businesswoman Chanelle McCoy will become the third female Dragon in the long-running series which has reflected the lows and highs of the Irish economy

Michael's daughter Chanelle McCoy (41), who is married to former champion jockey AP McCoy, heads the generic human medicines side of the business.

Ray Coyle

Former potato farmer and Largo Foods Fonder Ray Coyle appears at number 245 on the list with an estimated worth of €50m. Mr Coyle developed the Tayto Park tourist attraction in Co Meath. 

John Teeling

At 250 on the rich list is John Teeling, who sold his Cooley distillery to Jim Beam in 2011 for an estimated €70m. Mr Teeling’s latest venture is Great Northern Distillery and he heads up exploration companies in Africa. Mr Teeling’s wealth is estimated to be €45m.  

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