Sunday 18 November 2018

'He will be remembered as a visionary businessman' - Irish entrepreneur Noel Hanlon dies

Noel O’Hanlon in his ambulance factory in Longford in 1988. He
went on to become chairman of various national companies. Photo: Tony Reddy
Noel O’Hanlon in his ambulance factory in Longford in 1988. He went on to become chairman of various national companies. Photo: Tony Reddy

Alan O’Keeffe

Irish entrepreneur Noel Hanlon died yesterday in South Africa.

He had moved to the Cape Town area some years ago. He had suffered from cancer.

Mr Hanlon (78) set up an ambulance manufacturing business in his native Longford town in the 1960s which grew to employ up to 300 people. It supplied 60pc of the British ambulance market and exported to the Middle East and Far East.

He closed the business in 1988 after clashing with trade unions over a rationalisation plan. It was placed in voluntary liquidation with debts of more than €1m.

Mr Hanlon bought a clothing factory in Ballymahon, Co Longford, in the 1980s and began making men’s suits and luxury overcoats before selling the business in 1986.

He was a close political ally and friend of former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds and was appointed chairman of a number of State companies while declining to accept payment.

He was made chairman of Aer Lingus in 1980. In 1992, he became chairman of the VHI health insurance company. In 1995, he became chairman of Aer Rianta.

He was also chairman of Foir Teoranta, the State rescue company for businesses in trouble.

Longford Fianna Fail County Councillor Joe Flaherty said: “He had a fairly advanced cancer and he visited Longford during the summer and said he came to say goodbye to people.

“He will be remembered as a visionary businessman,” he said.

Sunday Independent

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