Sunday 21 July 2019

Irish scientist and entrepreneur leaves behind €21m in will

BUSINESS BRAIN: Dundalk-born and Alltech founder Pearse Lyons built a career in the brewing industry
BUSINESS BRAIN: Dundalk-born and Alltech founder Pearse Lyons built a career in the brewing industry
Liam Collins

Liam Collins

Entrepreneur Pearse Lyons, founder of the global animal nutrition group Alltech, who died in the United States almost a year ago, has left more than €21m in his will.

Although best known as the founder of the Kentucky (USA)-based conglomerate which has its European headquarters in Dunboyne, Co Meath, he also opened distilleries in Dublin and Lexington and was a pioneer of the craft-beer renaissance in Ireland and the Commonwealth of Kentucky, where he lived in Jessamine County.

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Born in Dundalk, Co Louth, in August, 1944, he worked in the Harp brewery during his summers while attending University College Dublin. He developed an interest in brewing, distilling and the science of fermentation, which according to various Rich Lists, made him one of Ireland's coterie of billionaires in later life.

He went to the University of Birmingham in England and graduated with a PhD in biochemistry in 1978. He then returned to UCD to do a Master's in Business Administration (MBA), which he didn't complete. He got a job with Irish Distillers which eventually took him to Kentucky, the heartland of bourbon whiskey distilling.

In 1980 he set up Alltech in the garage of the home he shared with his wife Deirdre, a solicitor and their two young children Mark and Aoife, with savings of $10,000. Initially, the company specialised in advising brewers on the fermentation process and was said to have successfully concluded more than $1m worth of business in its first year.

He later branched out into animal nutrition products, which soon outstripped the brewing side of the business and now has branches in many different countries.

"Everything he did, he did with three things: passion for life, a commitment to excellence, and he always had fun in everything he did," his son Mark told his funeral in Kentucky last year.

With over 5,000 employees worldwide, Alltech allowed him to pursue his personal interest in brewing and distilling. He established the Pearse Lyons Distillery in an old church in Thomas Street, Dublin, which opened in 2017, and he also established the Lexington Brewing and Distilling Company in Kentucky where he made his home.

In a 12-page document, mostly concerned with tax-planning and the operation of his trust funds, Thomas Pearse Lyons, described as an entrepreneur of Avenue of Champions, Nicholasville, Kentucky, USA, who died on March 8, 2018, at the age of 73, left estate valued at €21,200,293.

Mr Lyons left "all my tangible personal property" to his wife, Deirdre. This is described in a further clause in the will as "personally held art, antiques, stamp and coin collections and other collectables". It also included membership of exclusive clubs and frequent flyer air miles.

Mr Lyons left the residue of his estate to be administered by the trustee of the Thomas P Lyons 2014 Revocable Trust.

Regarding the company he founded, Alltech Worldwide Holdings, Mr Lyons stipulated in his will: "It is my desire and wish that my personal representative in the exercise of my personal representative's duties and powers should, to the greatest extent possible, maintain ultimate ownership of Alltech Worldwide Holdings and Alltech Inc."

His funeral was held in Lexington, Kentucky, on St Patrick's Day 2018.

Sunday Independent

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