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Michael O'Leary

Hundreds of cancelled flights because of pilot and cabin crew strikes meant it was the most challenging year yet for Mullingar native Michael O'Leary's (57) tenure as the boss of Ryanair.

Consequently, the share price took a battering, and is down about 30pc. Questions were asked over the former accountant's future as its CEO, but though his contract is up for renewal this year, he admitted he wasn't sure if he'd stick with the job any later than 2024, saying he was happy to continue in the post while it remained interesting and challenging.

During the year, the outspoken horse breeder, racing enthusiast, cattle breeder and property investor sold 2m shares and banked about €33m before tax. The sale leaves him with a stake of about 3.8pc, now worth about €476m. At one stage, he owned about 25pc of the airline, but has sold tranches of it gradually and banked the proceeds. The share price could take a big hit if there's a no-deal Brexit in March and no aviation agreement in place between the EU and Britain.

One of his horses, Tiger Roll, won Britain's Grand National last year, prompting the outspoken Irishman to pledge a free drink - but only one - to every passenger on the plane (Ryanair, naturally) home. He later sold off 40 horses last September from the more than 160 that he reportedly owns and keeps at Gigginstown Stud, where he also has two farms, and another stud that he owns in Newmarket.

Last year, he added a pile on Elgin Road in Ballsbridge to what is now a €20m portfolio of four houses there. He was linked with a €10m Baroque palace purchase in Majorca during the summer while the strikes were in full swing, and owns at least four office blocks in Glasgow and London, as well as one near Manchester in the UK. At one stage, he was also linked to properties including a shopping centre in north Dublin.

Online Editors