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Saturday 17 November 2018

Ryan wills millions to wife and his lover

Tony Ryan with his son Shane at Croke Park
Tony Ryan with his son Shane at Croke Park


Ryanair founder Tony Ryan has left over €95m in his will, including over €20m to his estranged wife, Mairead, and over €6m to his last lover, Martine Head.

None of the tycoon's string of other well-known lovers are mentioned in his will, which was lodged in the Probate Office in Dublin last week.

Although it is the largest will ever to go to probate in Dublin, it contains only a fraction of the tycoon's wealth, much of which is already tied up in discretionary trusts for his surviving children and grandchildren.

Ryan, who founded the aircraft leasing group GPA, and later Ryanair, died on October 3, 2007, leaving a total of €95,454,753 in his will. His address was given as Lyford Cay, Nassau, Bahamas, and "formerly of Lyons Demesne, Celbridge, Co Kildare".

His will includes property in Ireland, mainly Lyons Demesne, his stately home outside Celbridge, Co Dublin, whose contents are valued at over €11m, and property on the Spanish island of Ibiza and in the United States.

He also had stocks and shares in the UK, Belgium, Monaco, Cyprus and Luxembourg valued at over €45m.

His will refers to "my wife", Mairead, who is bequeathed €20m either in Ryanair shares or in cash if the shares are not of sufficient value to reach that amount.

He also left €6,250,000 to Martine Head -- although no address is given for her in the will.

This is made up of a property in Deauville, France. The bequest includes a specific sum of €500,000 to complete renovations of the property Tourgeville House, which Mr Ryan originally purchased for €4m and is now vested in a company called Dardondo.

Martine Head was described by Tony Ryan's friend and business associate Jim King as "his friend, who brought joy and tranquillity to the last chapter of a great life".

She is a daughter of well-known French horse trainer Alec Head and lived at Lyons with Mr Ryan during his fatal illness. Mr Ryan's marriage to Mairead broke up when their children were still small and he had a string of love affairs with beautiful women including Lady Miranda Iveagh.

According to documents filed at the Probate Office in Dublin, the airline tycoon's funeral service, which included a fly-past by three aircraft, and his memorial at Lyons, cost over €500,000.

Other beneficiaries of his will include Declan Doyle and Arthur Finnan, whose addresses are given as Lyons Demesne, who get €1m each, and Ann Fitzsimons of Grovesnor Square, Rathmines, Dublin who gets €125,000.

He also left €10m to the Tony Ryan Trust.

His son Declan got his "entire interest" in the joint venture in the 'Village at Lyons' and his house in Ibiza.

In the will, the names of his two other sons, Cathal, who died shortly after his father, and Shane, whose address is given as Elm Park Road, London, were crossed out of this clause.

However, Shane Ryan was left Castleton Lyons, the 1,100 acre Kentucky estate which is owned by a company called Taylor & Carr. Mr Ryan's brothers and sisters, Simon, Kell, Catherine and May were left over €1m each.

The 'residue' of his estate, which includes his stately home Lyons Demesne, was left to his sons Cathal and Declan, "for their own use in absolute equal shares".

The will also reveals that Tony Ryan had €3m worth of his favourite wine, a Margaux called Chateau Lascombes.

He also had shares in a diverse group of companies like Newcourt, Paddy Power, Providence, Tesco, Tullow Oil and UTV, as well as shares in unquoted companies Conficius and Ginko Investments valued at €18m.

Tony Ryan's fortune was based on an aircraft-leasing business he established in a small office in the Shannon Tax Free zone in 1975 called Guinness Peat Aviation. The company grew to become the largest airline leasing company in the world, known as GPA. At its height, its board included Garret FitzGerald, Peter Sutherland, former Irish ambassador to the US Sean Donlon, John Harvey Jones and a raft of other blue chip directors.

It was worth billions -- and Tony Ryan established Ryanair for his sons Cathal, Declan and Shane. The fledgling airline lost tens of millions and Tony Ryan was almost bankrupted when GPA collapsed in 1993.

But the arrival of Michael O'Leary, along with businessman Denis O'Brien, saved the airline and renewed Ryan's fortune.

Ryan, whose father was a train driver from Boherlahan, Co Tipperary, lived at Dolla House, where he bred prize cattle and collected paintings. But in the 1990s, after the revival of his fortunes, he bought the Lyons Demesne from Michael Smurfit and set about a restoration project on the dilapidated stately home which cost over €100m.

He also maintained homes in Ibiza, Eaton Square in London, his Kentucky estate and in the Bahamas. All of his homes were filled with antiques and valuable Irish paintings.

He was a very intense man, with a love of women and he wooed a string of socialites. After his marriage broke up he began a long-running affair with Lady Miranda Iveagh.

He was also involved with other well-known women in Dublin, until he finally met Martine Head.

Jim King, an associate from his days with GPA, said: "Ryan did, of course, burn the candle at both ends.

"He travelled relentlessly, worked all hours and lived hard, prompted by his father's admonishment -- 'better to break the handle than let the spade rust'.

"He was great fun to be with and, work done, he could switch off totally."

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