Devon-based Tim Martin (64) founded pub chain Wetherspoons in 1979 and today owns 31.9pc of the business (worth €612m) which sells cheap beer and meals. The firm plans to open at least four new pubs here over the next four years.
The Belfast-born Brexit supporter and outspoken critic of the City has benefited handsomely over the past year, as the share price is up by 44pc. Pay and dividends netted him €5.17m last year, before tax.
Keen followers of the Irish rugby team, Ray O’Rourke and his brother Des are Ireland’s third and fourth wealthiest engineers, after Martin Naughton and David McMurtry.
While Des has stepped down from their construction and engineering giant Laing O’Rourke’s construction board, Ray (73) remains at the helm of the business and resolutely steered it back into profit for its 2019 financial year, with a €39m profit on €3.3bn of managed revenue, after a challenging four years that saw losses mount up on a Canadian hospital project. The firm, which has been in business for over 40 years, and employs over 12,000 people, also has operations in Dubai and Australia. With €9bn of orders on its books, several children of Des and Ray also work in the business.
A champion of women, technology, as well as design and engineering excellence in construction, O’Rourke mainly divides his time between a home in Jersey and his company’s headquarters on the outskirts of London, with occasional trips to Dublin for rugby matches, and farther afield for business. Two of the firm’s female engineers featured last year in the Financial Times’ 100 most influential women leaders in engineering in the UK and Europe list.
He is also a qualified pilot, and has a Beechcraft 200B plane. Some of the hundreds of millions in profit that the firm has made over the years has been invested in Irish and UK commercial property, as well as stocks and shares.
Low-key Wexford brothers Bert (81) and Maurice (77) Allen and their families are the second wealthiest food industry magnates in Ireland. But they also have extensive property interests, with a portfolio of nursing homes, land, apartments, a car park and hotel investments spanning the UK, Ireland (Dublin and Cork) and Germany. It’s thought to be worth at least €450m, with debt of about half of that, and generating a rent roll of over €40m.
In recent years, they lost money after backing renewable energy firms Gaelectric and OpenHydro. Separately, a wind farm they’ve backed had €57m of assets, a farm in their native Wexford is valued at €15m, and they have valuable thoroughbred horses valued at €9m.
When their 50pc stake in Slaney Foods was sold to Larry Goodman’s ABP Group in 2016, they banked about €200m, with an expertly timed sale of the €580m Bewley’s Hotel Group before the crash in 2008 having netted them about €200m.
Children Harry, Bertram and April run bloodstock operation Ballywalter Farms near Dusseldorf, with six stallions. Son Bertram is a professional showjumper, with his list of prizes getting longer by the year, and 91,000 followers on Instagram. The family are also currently redeveloping their Newtown Stables in Wexford, where they have about 100 acres.
Kerryman John Murphy established North London-based construction and infrastructure firm J Murphy and Sons in 1951, after starting out clearing bomb sites after the Blitz. In what was a rags-to-riches story, he had emigrated there unable to read and with very little money. In 1993, industry legend has it that after the IRA bombing of Bishopsgate in the City, then Prime Minister John Major called on John, who then brought in several other Irish firms to begin the task of clearing and rebuilding. John Snr died in 2009 at the age of 95. Today, the firm is run by his grandson John Paul, while several other family members also have stakes in the business, which is overarched by an Isle of Man family trust. Son Bernard passed away last March at the age of 74.
The firm, which has an iconic green logo, works on tunnels, railways, bridges, pipelines, and water projects, as well as buildings. In 2018, the firm had a turnover of €928m (£779.5m), but made a loss of £12.9m. Assets amounted to £204m, with £9m paid out in dividends in 2017 and 2018. A separate property investment holding company had £226m of shareholders’ funds, having made almost £50m of profit in 2017 and 2018. The value of the properties — most of which are in North London or on the edge of the City — has almost quadrupled, the accounts reveal. In this country, a Murphy company had €47.5m of revenues in 2018.
Meath native e-learning tycoon Pat McDonagh made a fortune in the 1990s from several software firms: CBT Systems, Skillsoft and e-learning firm Riverdeep. He cashed in some of his €800m stake after the tech boom, initially banking more than €200m.
In recent years, he backed Arklow developer Greg Kavanagh, who sold or developed land around Dublin that he had snapped up at the bottom of the market. McDonagh’s assets have included land in the Dublin commuter belt, and stud farms where he previously bred horses. Son Richard is also in the property game, owning various Dublin land holdings and buildings.
Other investments have had mixed fortunes. Sausage firm Olhausens and US education tech firm TVtextbook have gone out of business. He is also a backer of Radio Nova and nursing home firm Remedy Care.
Bristol-born Stephen Vernon (69), whose parents were Irish and whose grandfather was from Callan, Co Kilkenny, is one of a handful of entrepreneurs and businesspeople who has profited from expertly timing when to get in and out of the property market here.
Recently named Community Foundation for Ireland Philanthropist of the Year, he and Pat Gunne shared a windfall of around €55m last August plus a performance fee of €11m-12m, after selling Green Reit to UK property firm Henderson Park.
He was one of very few people to come through the 2008 crash unscathed, and Green Reit picked up assets here at discounted prices in 2013. He had huge paydays. Between 1993 and 2002, he grew Green Property from €24m of assets to over €1bn worth, before taking it private in a €1.9bn buyout. In 2016, he sold the Blanchardstown Shopping Centre for €950m and two prime London properties to Asian buyers for €246m.
In his spare-time, Porsche-driving Vernon enjoys skiing, hillwalking, sailing and tennis. He owns a bolthole in Glandore, Co Cork, and a home in Ranelagh. His foundation here, the John Pollard Foundation — named after his grandfather and set up in 2017 — supports medicine, arts, education, and music initiatives. It has also donated an MRI scanner to the National Maternity Hospital, on whose board he sits. It owns a 5pc stake in Staycity, has backed UCD spinout Atxa and will back other firms and has a share portfolio. He also supports Nepalese charity the Samata Foundation.
When the Louth-born late Edward Haughey Snr, Lord Ballyedmond, died in 2014, he left €472m of assets to his widow Mary and her daughter and sons. He had founded health and veterinary products firm Norbrook Laboratories in 1969, which a family trust has inherited, along with properties and farmland.
Employing 1,900 staff, the majority of them in Newry, the firm is about mid-way through a difficult two years, as a result of product recalls since last May, which were prompted by concerns over sterility. Sales in the year to last August fell from £275m to £237m, with profits down from £45m to just £11m. The family holding company had £151m of assets and £139m of shareholders’ funds last year.
Accounts suggest two of the castles the family own are worth £39m. The family own other properties in London’s Belgrave Square, Uganda, Norfolk, Dublin, and Co Louth. Eton and Trinity College-educated son Edward Jnr has co-founded Cara Veterinary, which plans to develop and acquire family-owned vet surgeries across the US, and is backed by a number of other wealthy families.
Kevin Lagan (69) was the main beneficiary of the sale of the building materials division of the Lagan Group, which also had a construction operation, in 2018, to UK firm Breedon. He has retained a housebuilding division — which made a £10m profit on sales of £100m in 2017 and 2018. He also kept some of the organisation’s other operations, and has established Derry offsite construction company FastHouse, which has over €22m of developments under way across the island, and in the UK.
Lagan has also backed investment platform Property Bridges, and sunk €3m into Dublin tourist attraction the Vaults. The latter did not prosper however, and he approached Tayto Park boss Ray Coyle about saving the business. In January, Lagan won a £189m development project on a 900-hectare site in Uganda. Sons Peter and John are also in the construction business through Lagan Investments and a number of other recently established firms.
One-time motor racing journalist and skiing and shooting enthusiast Paddy McNally (88) made a fortune 14 years ago, when he sold his Allsport Management — which devised lucrative ways to make money from corporate hospitality and trackside advertising in F1 motor racing — to private equity firm CVC for £275m, having founded it in 1984.
McNally, who grew up in Donegal and Monaghan, was once a love rival to Britain’s Prince Andrew for the affections of the latter’s now ex-wife Sarah Ferguson. He owns properties in Switzerland, the south of France, as well as two in southern England, one of which is the former home of James Bond creator Ian Fleming. A Swiss Rich List once estimated McNally’s wealth at closer to €600m.
McNally’s brother Peter, an accountant, rose to a senior level at London Weekend Television, eventually sharing in its financial success. Their father, who was from Monaghan ran an RAF hospital in Iraq just before the Second World War. His parents had also been entrepreneurial, running two linen factories in Monaghan and Strabane.
The Kenny family, headed by Charlie (84) — who is married with five children — owns valuable properties around Dublin’s Harcourt St, and a Limerick shopping centre. They were valued at over €470m in 2016, but are now held in a number of unlimited companies, which means they don’t have to file accounts. They will have since increased in value.
One of the companies, Clancourt Holdings, is one of a number of Rich List developers hoping to house 2,500 KPMG staff in one of their offices. In another one, 3 Park Place, Clancourt counts the IDA, Deloitte and Santander as its blue-chip tenants.
One of the Kenny sons, Conor has backed Algae Health, a system to produce ingredients for cosmetics and food supplements from algae.
Low-key London-based Limerick native Aidan Brooks (49), a former aerial installer, owns high-end property in London, New York, Paris, and elsewhere. Tenants have tended to be designer and premium brands’ stores on streets that yield the highest rents. A landmark London property, 431-451 Oxford Street, across the road from Selfridges quadrupled in value between 2013 and 2019 to over €560m. Reports link him to other properties there on nearby Bond St, in Knightsbridge, Chelsea, and at Old Spitalfields Market that make up a portfolio that could be worth over €1bn.
Brooks is often involved in deals with John Magnier and JP McManus, which tend to be made through Sloane Capital which owns €1bn of properties in LA and the UK. In the past, Brooks has also advised and sold property to Israeli billionaire Ben Ashkenazy, whose Ashkenazy Acquisition Corporation has $12bn of assets. Irish company filings indicate that Brooks owns a large chunk of property in central Limerick including the former Ardhu Ryan hotel site, and he may be well-placed to profit from some of the regeneration efforts that are planned or under way in the city.
South Dubliners Bernie and John Gallagher, both 60, had a stake in the €1.8bn PV Doyle hotels group, which sold in 2007. Other shareholders were fellow Rich Listers the Monahan, Beatty and Roche families.
Today, they share in the success of the Doyle Collection group of eight US, Irish and UK hotels, which were valued at €623m at the end of 2018. Shareholders’ funds that year amounted to €334m, with a profit of €10.3m on revenues of €146.5m.
The couple’s Crownway Investments firm previously backed businesses in the security, energy, water and waste sectors. It also owns the Bord Gais Theatre and commercial properties here and in Poland.
One-time Conservative Party candidate and continued supporter Charles Gallagher (60) and his family increased their stake in listed housebuilder Abbey to 94.5pc in January.
The market value of the firm is €313m. It made €21.6m pre-tax profit on €92.5m in the six months to October. UK firm Matthew Homes made €14m profit on €77.5m of sales in 2018. It had €135.7m of retained earnings in its last accounts. A plant hire firm had €80m of turnover in 2019, earning €13.1m of profit, with €87m of retained earnings.
Paddy Power betting chain co-founder David Power (73) owns a 4.4pc stake in what has become gambling behemoth Flutter that is worth €370m. Last October, FTSE-listed Flutter announced a £10bn plan to merge with Canada’s Stars Group — whose best-known brand is perhaps PokerStars — as part of an acquisition drive to become the world’s biggest online gambling firm, having hoovered up Betfair, FanDuel, and Sportsbet.
The former chartered accountant was one of the best-known bookmakers in Britain and Ireland, having been in the industry since 1970. In 2017, he helped to fund the redevelopment of the Curragh Racecourse. He has also backed Dublin tech startups Banach, whose founders used to crunch data and numbers at Paddy Power.
Flutter’s share price is up 41pc over the past year. Previous share sales, dividends — including an €8.2m one last year — and UK property account for the rest of his wealth. He invested in a number of hotels being built by developer Roquebrook, which has worked on over €150m of such projects in the UK and Gibraltar. He and his wife Sabena own a number of racehorses, including two Ascot winners, and, fittingly, they all have ‘Power’ in their name. Son Willie runs on-course bookie Richard Power, which he chaired up until 2018, while son Paddy is the ‘Paddy Power’.
Cement and building products provided the foundations for the Roche business empire that became CRH in the 1970s, and the family became one of Ireland’s leading business dynasties.
Today they own the majority of renewable energy, water, wind and solar energy firm NTR, which is expanding its wind farm investments. Last year, NTR was seeking to grow its second renewable energy fund to €500m, having secured over €220m in commitments.
Tom (70), his wife Anne (69), and their sons John (33), Conor (46), and daughters Michelle (44) and Joanne (42) received €25m in dividends in 2017. The four children have set up a charitable foundation based on their €30m interest in one of the family holding companies. The four also own just under a quarter stake in the Doyle Hotels holding company, which was founded by Anne’s father PV Doyle. John is developing four houses on the wealthy south Dublin enclave of Brighton Road in Foxrock, has a development site in west Dublin, and established two Cocu restaurants in Dublin.
Brothers Greg (58) and Niall (51) Turley made about €200m from selling their stakes in car rental tech firm CarTrawler in 2011 and 2014. It evolved out of the family business, Argus Car Hire in south Dublin.
A third brother, Malta-based Mark (53), owns Europe’s largest grain-based biofuel refinery in Hungary, which also has operations elsewhere, and makes ethanol and various by-products including high protein animal feed and a healthy bran extract. The family own a majority stake in the firm, which is backed by a group of US and European banks. It is thought to be worth about €250m. Profit of €39m was up 10pc in 2018 on revenues of €286m.
Niall owns a €5.8m castle on 265 acres in Galway, while the three are also believed to own properties in south Dublin. Greg and Mark sought to develop a 55-unit build to rent property on the former Rathdown Motors site in Terenure, which they owned. Greg has also backed several tech startups here and in the US, including airport transfer search firm Mozio, through his firm Roundtown Investments. It had €6.2m of assets at the end of 2018, having made a €10.3m pre-tax profit.
Galway-based Declan Ganley (51) — who was born in London to Irish parents — describes himself as an entrepreneur and inventor, as well as CEO and chairman of US 5G broadband tech firm Rivada Networks. Reports in 2019 said the firm had annual revenues of about €22m and had spent €80m on its technology, also building up a valuable IP portfolio of patents, some of which are believed to be key to 5G.
Austrian telecom and tech backer Peter Goldscheider is one of the main investors, but Ganley’s stake is still around 50pc. Billionaire Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel is also a backer. The firm is thought to have big ambitions in the US, despite previous setbacks, and valuations have been as high as €720m. Teetotaller and committed Catholic Ganley has other wealth, having previously sold a timber business and various other telecom-related ventures.
Former assistant bank manager Brian McCarthy (75) built Fexco into a finance and technology powerhouse from a base in Killorglin, Co Kerry, where he founded the company in 1981.
It employs 2,500 people in 29 countries, processing over €14bn of transactions a year, though sons Denis and John now own their father’s valuable shareholding. Net assets amounted to €352m in 2018. After a sale of Goodbody Stockbrokers — in which it owned a 51pc stake — fell through in January last year, a sale to the Bank of China got across the line in November. The €150m sale price will have netted the McCarthys an estimated €54m, while net assets are up by €38m.
The past year has been very good to former Ardagh CEO Niall Wall (57). His 8.8pc stake in his brother-in law Paul Coulson’s glass and packaging group has increased in value by just under 80pc to €398m. He spent a decade at the helm of the €4.49bn business, which floated in 2017, and was handsomely rewarded for his role.
He chairs waste, water and energy firm Enva, a spinout of DCC, which has operations here and in the UK, and recently bought a UK battery recycler. It is owned by Exponent, a private equity firm he’s backed. He’s also a director of Mayo man Frank Salmon’s CMS Distribution, and a non-executive director of Green Biofuels Ireland.
Among other assets are properties on Dublin’s Leeson St, a €7m property on Fitzwilliam Square, a house in Blackrock, and a €6m home in London’s Knightsbridge, where he’s based. He and his family helped to fund the €1.5m Ken Wall Centre of Excellence at Leinster Rugby’s ground — it’s named after his late father.
Derry native Roma Downey (59) and her husband’s (also 59) annual Christmas party in one of their several Malibu houses is attended by A-list celebrities, and they’re two of only 47 people Donald Trump follows on Twitter.
One of the wealthiest women on the Rich List, the Emmy-nominated actress and her husband, former British soldier Mark Burnett (creator of The Apprentice, Dragons’ Den, Survivor, The Voice and Shark Tank), have made their money from TV formats and productions such as The Bible, Son of God and Ben Hur.
Since 2012, the couple have banked at least €320m in fees and dividends. Hearst and MGM bought Burnett’s firm over several stages, valuing it first at €480m and then more.
A series of novels, Angels Everywhere is one of the latest planned by Downey, while the pair — who are devoted Christians — are reportedly raising $100m to launch their own subscription streaming service for faith-based programmes. Last May, Downey paid €2m for a remodelled 1923 Spanish style house in Hollywood. She and Burnett are patrons of Dublin’s Abbey Theatre, while she has supported a diverse range of other charitable causes, from the Irish Arts Centre in New York, to arts and education organisations in her native Derry, children’s medical charities, Operation Smile, Race to Erase MS, as well as wildlife conservation organisations, and ones that help persecuted Christians in the Middle East.
Serial entrepreneur Terry Clune (47, below) established the Kilkenny-based Taxback Group of businesses in 1996, which has grown to employ over 1,300 people around the world. Its business services ranging from currency exchange and transfers, to VAT and tax and payroll services, visas, language and marketing services. Among its clients are Intel, Uber and Airbus.
Its firm Transfermate exchanges over €2bn of currencies a year. Last year, Wicklow-born Clune signed a valuable deal for it with the third largest bank in the US, Wells Fargo to handle all its inbound payments to the US from overseas. Such a major client win could make it easier for it to win more of that calibre.
Transfermate has built a network of payments licences around the world with local bank-clearing access, alongside a technology interface that allows corporate clients to transfer money internationally more quickly and for lower fees than standard international bank transfers. As the business grows it may become an acquisition target of other financial giants. Previous deals with AIB and ING valued Transfermate at €350m.
Low-key horse breeder and businessman Frank Dunne (76) — brother of retail multimillionaire and Dunnes Stores boss Margaret Heffernan — is thought to own about a third of the Dunnes Stores clothing and supermarket empire.
He owns two studs in Co Kildare and Co Meath, and buyers of horses he has bred in the past have included one of the sons of Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Makhtoum. The original Dunnes was a family shop in Cork’s Patrick Street that was established in 1944. Today it’s believed to have sales of over €3.6bn. He and his sister supported the renovation of their old family home, Ringmahon House, in Cork, some years ago, and a modern sheltered housing building that were constructed in its grounds.
At the age of 83, Monaco-based Michael Smurfit — one of Ireland’s best-known businessmen — is said to be taking it easier these days. He has stepped down from a holding company for Sean Mulryan’s Ballymore Properties, on which he spent 14 years as a non-executive director, and was said to be advising Mulryan as it navigated getting out of Nama between 2010 and 2016.
His K Club, which has been loss-making for a number of years, was sold last year — reports differ as to whether it made €55m or €70m. €55m would have more or less repaid debts that were owed to shareholders, judging by its most recent accounts.
The paper and packaging tycoon is believed to have done better on an investment in postal software firm Escher, which was sold last February for €40m, and in which he had a stake. Among his other investments are calving sensor firm Moocall, nephew Dermot Jnr’s gambling tech firm GAN, cancer treatment firm Inflection Biosciences — which did a deal last year with a Singapore firm for one of its cancer medicine candidates — and jobs website Jobbio.
Smurfit embarked on his business career building a hugely successful global business, Smurfit Kappa, from his father’s small cardboard box-making firm. Selling shares, buying them back, and then selling again, making a profit each time, earned him hundreds of millions between 2002 and 2012. The family are believed to still retain a tiny stake, less than 1pc. In 2016, he banked an estimated €62m from his stake in his brother Dermot’s firm Powerflute, which was bought by Madison Dearborn. Other assets include an art collection, properties including a Kildare stud farm, and a 50-metre €60m yacht, which is available for charter.
During the 58 years that he spent in the US after emigrating there in 1950, the late Mayoman Thomas Flatley built a diverse business empire that included a TV station at one stage and properties in 56 cities across seven states. He funded the Boston Irish Famine Memorial, and sold off two tranches of property for about €1bn in total. In 2007, he gave the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston a number of valuable properties, before he passed away in 2008.
A remaining chunk of properties is managed by extended family members, and includes two waterfront development sites. His son John owns a number of properties, and supports efforts to find a cure for cystic fibrosis.
A charitable foundation set up, The Flatley Foundation, owned between $500m and $650m of assets at the end of 2017. It donated $11m to education, healthcare and Catholic causes that year.
The business owned by Howth-based Stephen O’Flaherty (58) and other members of his extended family, who each have stakes in one of the country’s largest networks of car dealerships had a €1bn turnover at the height of the boom. Among the brands it sells are Skoda, Mercedes, VW, Mazda and Audi. These previously made up the O’Flaherty Holdings group of businesses, which was established in 1950 by his grandfather, Stephen Snr.
The family holding company was put into voluntary liquidation in 2018, and the business is now made up of a complex structure of Jersey and Irish companies and another one based in Malta, in which the family members now have stakes. One of the Irish companies has property assets worth €48m and had €257m of net assets. Other wealth includes over €170m of dividends, property in Texas, and businesses in the US, and the proceeds of the sale of a business there. There is also a 720-year-old mansion in Co Kildare.