Thursday 14 December 2017

Behind every filthy rich tycoon, there's her indoors...

Jackie Lavin, partner to Bill Cullen. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Jackie Lavin, partner to Bill Cullen. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Glenda Gilson and Johnny Ronan were an item for three years. Photo: Collins
Michael and Anita O'Leary on their wedding day. Photo: Tony Gavin
Pat and Dermot Desmond. Photo: Collins
Noreen McManus, wife of JP, pictured at Leopardstown Races. Photo: Tom Burke

Roisin Burke

There's the usual clutch of society types, charity queens and glamazons, but the wives and girlfriends of mega-wealthy businessmen also include former investment bankers, lawyers, farmers, retailers and even a religious crusader.

Horseracing tycoon John Magnier's wife Susan has owned and co-owned some racing greats, including the Royal Ascot record breaker Yeats. The couple are among the top 10 art collectors in the world, owning a €22m Modigliani and works by Renoir and Degas.

Wife of Limerick ex-bookie and multimillionaire currency trader JP, Noreen McManus is a major sponsor and regular attendee of Munster greyhound meets. She has co-owned prize winning dogs including Christmas Box and Bellewood Pilot.

Dermot Desmond's wife Pat is a keen golfer and has served several times as lady captain at the upmarket K Club. Singer Andrea Corr is married to the couple's stockbroker son Brett.

Oil tycoon Aidan Heavey's wife Lorraine is a former model and also had a top 10 hit single in 1990 called Peaceful Paradise.

Campbell's Soup billionaire John Dorrance and his wife Gundel reside in South County Dublin but she graces the New York social scene occasionally, attending charity dinners where guests include Queen Noor, the Habsburgs and Bulgarian and Greek royalty. "Gundel Dorrance, the evening decor chair, made the tables sparkle, as did her dazzling rubies," gushed Avenue Magazine of one event.

The €25m KFC chicken chain franchise holder and property magnate Michael Herbert likes to name developments after his wife and business partner Lesley, such as Lesley Manor and a Lesley Plaza in Belfast. Hoardings at sites for their business projects have proclaimed "Lesley Does it Again".

Ryanair chief Michael O'Leary's wife Anita Farrell is a former Citibank investment banker. She has studied farming in recent years, and the couple live on a vast Mullingar estate farm. Her husband complains bitterly that she packs too much when going on holidays, proving no-one's safe from his battle to stop passengers checking in luggage.

Model and TV presenter Glenda Gilson and Treasury Holdings developer had a romance for three years until she delivered him a mighty kick in the goolies in a pub ruckus in Ranelagh last month. Ronan did the wise thing and rapidly got out of Dodge.

Dignity restored, Glenda is a director of Gilson Motors, which sells second-hand motors -- Bentleys, BMWs and the like.

Bernie Gallagher is married to Dakota 66 frontman John Gallagher, better known as the shrewd businessman who sold prime Jurys Doyle property assets to cash-rich builders and developers at the peak of the boom.

But Bernie doesn't stay in the background. She is one of the key drivers in the remaining Jurys Doyle business, which includes the Westbury and other hotels. She also brings most of the wealth to the partnership as a member of the Doyle family.

Bill Cullen's partner in life and business is Jackie Lavin, who appears as his right hand woman on the TV show The Apprentice. The former model was the face that launched the Sunday World in 1973, pictured under the racy banner "Are you getting it every Sunday?" She ran her own clothes boutiques before going to work for Mr Cullen's Glencullen empire.

Backer of the stalled Chicago Spire, Garreth Kelleher is married to Maeve. She is on the board of directors of the Iona Institute, a conservative family values religious think-tank. Its website describes her as "married with six [now seven] children. She is a stay-at-home mother," but doesn't mention her half a dozen company directorships.

Marie Cooney is a founding member of the €230m drinks manufacturer Gleeson Group along with her husband Patrick.

Glen Dimplex founder Martin Naughton's other half is Carmel, a former chair of the National Gallery.

Her influence may be behind the impressive art collection on the walls at her husband's Merrion Hotel and Michelin- starred restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, which includes valuable works by Louis Le Brocquy, Sir John Lavery and Paul Henry.

Sunday Independent

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