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Changing fortunes as new faces join Ireland’s wealthiest


A modicum of consistency ruled over this year’s Sunday Times Irish Rich List as Olympic successes boosted the fortunes of others.

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Despite being down £100m Hilary Weston and family topped Ireland’s richest 250 with a fortune of £5,900m for the fourth consecutive year.


The former model from Dublin, 70, is currently developing a hotel attached to London department store Selfridges, where daughter Alannah works as creative director.


Husband Galan – Canada’s second richest man – bought the Oxford Street store in 2003, making it just one small part of the lucrative Weston empire, which also includes Ireland’s Brown Thomas.


The Westons wealth also places them among the 50 richest in Europe.


With the Westons retaining the number one spot it falls to mobile phones magnet Denis O’Brien at £2,169million and investment mogul John Dorrance to complete Ireland’s top three richest people.


O’Brien has seen his fortune drop by £348m since last year after the value in his stake in Independent News and Media halved.


Dorrance, 68, meanwhile is worth £1,516m having inherited and sold shares in Campbell Soup Company – the American giant founded on his grandfather’s invention of condensed soup. He splits his time between Dublin and the Bahamas


The fourth richest man in Ireland is Dermot Desmond, who made his £1,389m fortune by anticipating the technology and banking downturns of the last 10 years – selling off before the slump.


The Cork man’s investment in redeveloping the Belfast shipyard where the Titanic was built received a boost with the opening of visitor centre Titanic Belfast.


This year the combined wealth of Ireland’s richest 250 hit £38.77billion.


And a number of Irish entrepreneurs who made a fortune through renewable energy, technology and in China were among the top 10 new entrants to the Rich List.


The highest new entrant was Dragon’s Den panelist Sean O’Sullivan, a Kinsale-based Irish-American who has a £150m fortune through his technology investments.


Kerry-born London hedge fund whizz Colm O’Shea (£145m) is next followed by Cork’s Liam Casey (£110m) who manufacturers iPhone and iPad products for Apple in China.


O’Shea, 42, runs Comac a £3.2billion hedge fund that made a £43.2m profit on £70.8 turnover in 2010-11. In that period he earned nearly £34m.


The shift to wind energy propelled toolmaker John Flaherty (£81m), whose Galway headquartered global C&F Group makes everything from wind turbines to computer racks, onto the list.


Drug treatments for brain conditions saw Seamus Mulligan (£77m) enter too via his stake in Athlone-based Nasdaq quoted Jazz Pharmaceuticals.


Other new entrants include Ted Kelly (£70m), raised in Keady, Co. Armagh, in a house with no running water. The Boston-based Liberty Mutual group, which he chairs, has taken over most of Quinn Insurance.


Cavan man Mick Crossan, 55 also features. He owns £50m Powerday – a leading waste and recycling group here in London.


There were, however, some casualties in the past year.


Boyband Westlife fell off the list after singer Shane Filan, 32, incurred multi-million pound property speculation debts.


Just 45 Irish women made the list this year, with Lottery winner Dolores McNamara retaining her spot on this year’s Rich List.


The former cleaning lady from Limerick, who won £77million in the EuroMillions lottery in 2005, has a fortune worth £94m.


A number of Irish people also feature in the Olympic millionaires list.


Ray O’Rourke and family were responsible for the construction of the Olympic park.


“Before a starting gun has even sounded, the 2012 Olympics have proved a winner for O’Rourke, chairman and chief executive of Europe’s biggest privately owned construction firm Laing O’Rourke,” the Rich List states.


Laing O’Rourke was part of the consortium overseeing the Games building programme.


Co Mayo-born Ray O’Rourke studied civil engineering in Dublin before going to London at the age of 20. Now 65 he launched R Rourke & Son with his brother Des in 1978. The firm was renamed Laing O’Rourke in 2001.


The Dartford-based group now has operations worldwide, delivering on landmark projects including Dubai airport.


Other iconic projects include London’s St Pancras channel tunnel rail link and the One Hyde Park luxury residential development in Knightsbridge. The firm recently won a contract to build the £340m Cheesegrater tower in the City.


Despite being down £35m on last year, Ray O’Rourke and family is number 282 on the Rich List with a fortune of £280million.


Cormac and Patsy Byrne also feature on the Olympic Millionaires list. The West London contractors run The Byrne Group which was responsible for the media building at the Olympic site. Their wealth stands at £115m.


Ireland also boosts a number of spots in the top 50 music millionaires in Britain and Ireland.


Rock band U2 take the fifth spot on the list with £514m followed by Lord of the Dance Michael Flatley at number 9 with £192m.


Singer Enya is at 31 with £86m followed by Moya Doherty and John McColgan (£68m), second generation Manchester Irish rockers Noel and Liam Gallagher (£65m) and Belfast musician Van Morrison (£50m)


Ireland’s Young Rich…


Writers, actors, musicians and entrepreneurs are among those who made it into the top 20 Irish millionaires under 30,excluding sport.


Topping the list are Cillian, Danielle, Claudia and Cameron Ryan whose inheritance sits at £60million.


The Ryans are part of the Declan and Shane Ryan aviation dynasty. The family’s Irelandia Investments, held via the Isle of Man, also owns Ryan’s undisclosed remaining stake in Ryanair, co-founded by the late Tony Ryan. They have made millions copying the Ryanair model internationally.


Actress and model Kiera Chaplin, the granddaughter of Charlie Chaplin, and singer Katie Melua complete the top three.


Writer Cecelia Ahern, daughter of former Taoiseach Bertie, joins the list with a fortune of £8m, as does Girls aloud singer Nadine Coyle (£5m) and X Factor stars Jedward (£2m).


A new entry onto the list this year is Carlow teenager, actress Saoirse Ronan. At just 18 and with £2m to her name, the Hollywood star’s career earnings to date and the contract for new Stephanie Meyer film The Host have secured her place on the Rich List.


The Garvey children, who own 18 per cent of Kerry SuperValu franchise Commidare Holdings, make their mark at no 10 on the list with £6m.


Internet millionaire Brian Fallon, 29, is at number six with £8m. He own 36 per cent of one of Ireland’s biggest online media groups Daft Media online services.


Britain’s richest people…


The combined wealth of the 1,000 richest men and women in Britain has reached a record level of more than £414billion.


Although still holding on in top spot, steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, 61, has seen 27 per cent wiped off the value of his family fortune in the last year as a result of the dramatic drop in the share value of his principal business, the giant steel producer ArcelorMittal.


The Mittals have now been number 1 in the Sunday Times Rich List continuously since 2005.


The richest woman is Staffordshire-born former Miss UK Kirsty Bertarelli, who shares a £7.4billion fortune with her husband Ernesto.



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