Sunday 17 November 2019

Ronan trimming his sails for now

Colm Kelpie

HE'S the flamboyant developer who became more famous for his lavish lifestyle than the boom investments that made his fortune.

If Johnny Ronan's high-profile relationship with model Glenda Gilson firmly enshrined him in the gossip columns, it was his ill-judged jaunt to Morocco with former Miss World Rosanna Davison that earned him a place on the front pages and in the public consciousness.

While a glitzy lifestyle may have been par for the course in the boom years, it had the potential to be viewed somewhat differently as the empire began to crumble, and NAMA appeared in the picture.

The colourful Lothario, nicknamed the buccaneer with his trademark grizzled beard, was not new to the world of luxury living.

The 58-year-old son of a pig farmer from Carrick-on-Suir, Co Tipperary, the chartered accountant enjoyed a good lifestyle since he formed Treasury with the more cerebral school-friend Richard Barrett in 1989, whom he met while at the prestigious Castleknock College.

More recently, his private jet, a reported €600,000 luxury Maybach limousine and an opulent mansion on Dublin's Burlington Road all fuelled the Celtic Tiger poster-boy image.

If his lifestyle secured him a transfer from the business pages to the gossip columns, a high-profile spat with Ms Gilson ensured him a spot in the tabloids.

His fiery relationship made headlines, including the infamous high-profile 'Rumble in Ranelagh' tiff outside McSorley's pub, details of which were painstakingly spelt out in most newspapers.

In an interview with the 'Sunday Independent', Ms Davison recounted that that the Africa trip was complete innocent fun, and was sparked by a comment a friend had made while on a night out with Ronan.

"Johnny suggested that we go somewhere in the jet because it was on standby, and then my friend said "Oh I've never been to Marrakech; let's go to Morroco," Ms Davison said.

"We decided that we would just hop into Johnny's car, which was outside, and pop into our respective houses, which are on the same road, and get our passports and anything else we needed and then go to the airport."

At the time, Ronan issued a statement declaring he was taking a break from business activities because of the high-profile coverage of his personal life, and he retreated from public view.

While never disappearing from public, his profile was certainly lower in recent months. What happens now remains to be seen.

Irish Independent

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