Great Irish People

On this post, we will look at the great Irish Business People. Like the great politicians and inventors Ireland has produced this will be a very difficult list to whittle down to five so let’s have a try. This list will be based mainly on my own preference and people who I think made a massive difference in business not only nationally but also internationally.


  1. Michael O’Leary

Michael O’Leary is the CEO of Ryanair. He is the most well-known businessman in Ireland because he is very outspoken on a range of topics. He based Ryanair on the Southwest Airline (USA) business model of No-Frills. He has grown Ryanair to one of the biggest Airlines in the world.

Some of these stats show why O’Leary is regarded as the greatest Businessman in Ireland at the moment and possibly ever; Ryanair will carry 119m customers this year, It carries more international passengers than any other airline, Has an unblemished 31-year safety record, It has a fleet of 350 Boeing 737-800 aircraft. Also, Operates in 33 countries along with Operating from 200 airports. It has 84 bases across Europe and North Africa, operates over 1,800 routes and finally Operates over 1,800 flights per day.

Here are some of Michael O’Leary’s best quotes;


  1. Denis O’Brien

Denis O’Brien was born on 19th April 1958 and is an Irish billionaire who was listed among the World’s Top 200 Billionaires in 2015 and is also Ireland’s richest native-born citizen.  His Net Worth is currently $5.8 Billion.

O’Brien owns Communicorp, a media holding company which operates across Europe, particularly in Ireland where it dominates national radio (apart from RTÉ) including stations like Newstalk and Today FM.

His Independent News & Media group controls the Irish Independent as well as the Irish Daily Star, the Sunday Independent, the Sunday World, Dublin’s Evening Herald and regional newspapers. He effectively owns Irish media as he owns two out of the three biggest radio stations along with majority of the newspapers in Ireland. But O’Brien also owns telecoms provider Digicel, which operates in 31 markets across the Caribbean, Central America and Oceania.


  1. Tony O’Reilly

Sir Anthony Joseph Francis “Tony” O’Reilly was  born  on 7th  May 1936, Dublin, Ireland), is a former Irish businessman and international rugby union player. He is known for his involvement in the Independent News & Media Group, which he led from 1973 to 2009,and as former CEO and Chairman of the H.J. Heinz Company. Perhaps Ireland’s first billionaire,

O’Reilly bought into Independent News & Media (INM), a Dublin-based print media company, in 1973, and having held over 28%, with leverage over more than 29.5% with family and other connected parties. He pushed the company to expand into other national markets and to increase its reach in Ireland. In the 1990s INM bought into South Africa (from 1994),Australia (from 1988) and New Zealand (from 1995), acquiring 38 newspaper titles, over 70 radio stations, cable and telecoms interests at a cost of around €1.3 billion. In the United Kingdom, INM took control of the national broadsheet The Independent in 1995, edging out MGN and Prisa.The company has over 200 national and regional newspaper and magazine titles in total, revenues of €1.7 billion and profits of €110.7 million. The group has assets of around €4.7 billion and debts in the region of €1.3 billion


He joined An Bord Bainne, the Irish Dairy Board, in 1962, as General Manager, and developed the successful Kerrygold “umbrella brand” for Irish export butter. In 1966 he became Managing Director of the Irish Sugar Company. He soon developed a joint venture for freeze-drying food with the H. J. Heinz Co.

He became Chairman of Heinz in 1987, succeeding HJ Heinz II, and becoming the first non-Heinz family member to hold that post. His guidance was seen as having helped transform the company into a major international competitor, its value increasing twelvefold (from $908 million to $11 billion).


  1. Arthur Guinness


I know a second entry for Mr. Guinness but he was without a doubt both a great Inventor and businessman. All you need to know about Arthur Guinness is below.

At 27, in 1752, Guinness’s godfather Arthur Price left him £100 in his will, thus again `The Luck of the Irish’ you say. Well there’s no prizes for guessing what he did with that money.

Guinness invested the money and in 1755 he had a brewery in Leixlip county Kildare. In 1759, Guinness went to Dublin and set up his own business. He took out a 9,000-year lease on a 4-acre site for an annual rent of £45 and the rest is history.

You can still see the Lease at the Guinness storehouse attraction at St. James gate in Dublin City.


  1. Chuck Feeney

Not exactly Irish but Chuck Feeney was of Irish descent. Also in my eyes a massive bearing in the Irish economy we see today. He made his money from Duty Free. Feeney was a co-founder of the Duty Free Shoppers Group (DFS Group), which earned him his fortune. In 1984, Feeney transferred his entire 38.75% ownership stake in DFS, worth $1.6 billion, to what became the Atlantic Philanthropies.

But most importantly for Ireland he was a philanthropist and invented heavily in Irelands 2nd level education.