Tony Ryan
Thomas Anthony "Tony" Ryan (2 February 1936 – 3 October 2007) was an Irish
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

A millionaire is an individual whose net worth or wealth is equal to or exceeds one million units of currency. It can also be a person who owns one million units of currency in a bank account or savings account...

, philanthropist and businessman.

He was a founder of Guinness Peat Aviation
Guinness Peat Aviation
Guinness Peat Aviation was a Commercial Aircraft Sales and Leasing company set up in 1975 by Aer Lingus, the Guinness Peat Group and Tony Ryan, then an Aer Lingus executive.-History:...

 (GPA) as well as co-founder of Ryanair
Ryanair is an Irish low-cost airline. Its head office is at Dublin Airport and its primary operational bases at Dublin Airport and London Stansted Airport....

 with Christy Ryan and Liam Lonergan. Ryanair was believed to be the main source of his wealth in later life: the company is now one of the biggest airline
An airline provides air transport services for traveling passengers and freight. Airlines lease or own their aircraft with which to supply these services and may form partnerships or alliances with other airlines for mutual benefit...

s in Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 and is valued at several billion euro
The euro is the official currency of the eurozone: 17 of the 27 member states of the European Union. It is also the currency used by the Institutions of the European Union. The eurozone consists of Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg,...


Ryan was believed to have a personal fortune ranging between €800m and €1bn. He held honorary doctorates from several universities, including Trinity College, Dublin
Trinity College, Dublin
Trinity College, Dublin , formally known as the College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Queen Elizabeth near Dublin, was founded in 1592 by letters patent from Queen Elizabeth I as the "mother of a university", Extracts from Letters Patent of Elizabeth I, 1592: "...we...found and...

, the National University of Ireland, Galway
National University of Ireland, Galway
The National University of Ireland, Galway is a constituent university of the National University of Ireland...

 and the University of Limerick
University of Limerick
The University of Limerick is a university in Ireland near the city of Limerick on the island's west coast. It was established in 1972 as the National Institute for Higher Education, Limerick and became a university by statute in 1989 in accordance with the University of Limerick Act 1989...


Business career

Born in Thurles
Thurles is a town situated in North Tipperary, Ireland. It is a civil parish in the historical barony of Eliogarty and is also an ecclesiastical parish in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly...

, County Tipperary
County Tipperary
County Tipperary is a county of Ireland. It is located in the province of Munster and is named after the town of Tipperary. The area of the county does not have a single local authority; local government is split between two authorities. In North Tipperary, part of the Mid-West Region, local...

, Ryan worked for Aer Lingus
Aer Lingus
Aer Lingus Group Plc is the flag carrier of Ireland. It operates a fleet of Airbus aircraft serving Europe and North America. It is Ireland's oldest extant airline, and its second largest after low-cost rival Ryanair...

, before going on to found their aircraft leasing arm, wet-leasing
Wet lease
Aircraft leases are a number of types of leases used by airlines and other aircraft operators. Airlines lease aircraft from other airlines or leasing companies for two main reasons; to operate aircraft without the financial burden of buying them, and to provide temporary increase in capacity...

 out their aircraft in the quieter winter months.

In 1975, he founded GPA, the Commercial Aircraft Sales and Leasing
Commercial Aircraft Sales and Leasing
Commercial Aircraft Sales and Leasing is a common phrase used to describe organizations which typically market used commercial airliners and related equipment to governments and other various customers from manufacturers such as Airbus and Boeing as a primary function...

 company which he set up in 1975 with $50,000. The company grew to be worth $4 billion at its peak but its value dramatically collapsed in 1992 after the cancellation of its planned IPO
Initial public offering
An initial public offering or stock market launch, is the first sale of stock by a private company to the public. It can be used by either small or large companies to raise expansion capital and become publicly traded enterprises...

. Ryan made €55m from the sale of AerFi (the successor to GPA) in 2000. Ryan was a tax exile
Tax exile
A tax exile is one who chooses to leave a country with a high tax burden and instead to reside in a foreign nation or jurisdiction which takes a lower portion of earnings. Going into tax exile is a means of tax mitigation or avoidance.-Legal status:...

 who lived in Monte Carlo
Monte Carlo
Monte Carlo is an administrative area of the Principality of Monaco....

, but also owned a stud farm
Stud farm
A stud farm or stud in animal husbandry, is an establishment for selective breeding of livestock. The word "stud" comes from the Old English stod meaning "herd of horses, place where horses are kept for breeding" Historically, documentation of the breedings that occur on a stud farm leads to the...

 near his home in Newmarket, County Tipperary
County Tipperary
County Tipperary is a county of Ireland. It is located in the province of Munster and is named after the town of Tipperary. The area of the county does not have a single local authority; local government is split between two authorities. In North Tipperary, part of the Mid-West Region, local...

. He was the 7th wealthiest individual from Ireland in the Sunday Times Rich List 2007
Sunday Times Rich List 2007
The Sunday Times Rich List 2007 was published on 29 April 2007. The online edition was published on 30 April 2007.Since 1989 the UK national Sunday newspaper The Sunday Times has published an annual magazine supplement to the newspaper called the Sunday Times Rich List...

 with over €1.5bn(£1bn).

Ryan over the years helped nurture two successful business protégés - Denis O'Brien
Denis O'Brien
Denis O'Brien is an Irish businessman with international connections. An Arts graduate of University College Dublin, O'Brien has received a MBA in corporate finance from Boston College in 1982, and was later given an honorary doctorate by University College Dublin.O'Brien has involvement with...

 and Michael O'Leary
Michael O'Leary (Ryanair)
Michael O'Leary is an Irish businessman and the Chief Executive Officer of the Irish airline Ryanair. He is one of Ireland's wealthiest businessmen.-Early life:...

 - both of whom became multi-millionaires.


Ryan was an active and innovative funder of university education in Ireland. He donated a marine science institute to NUI Galway
National University of Ireland, Galway
The National University of Ireland, Galway is a constituent university of the National University of Ireland...

 in 1993 which was named the Martin Ryan Marine Science Institute in honour of his father. He showed a great interest in marine science and aquaculture development in the west of Ireland. He also funded The Ryan Academy for Entrepreneurship at the Citywest
Citywest is a business park and golf resort in the Saggart area, just north and northwest of Saggart village in South Dublin. The nearest major town is Tallaght. The business park has developed a modest residential population in recent years...

 park, that is run by Dublin City University
Dublin City University
Dublin City University is a university situated between Glasnevin, Santry, Ballymun and Whitehall on the Northside of Dublin in Ireland...


In 2001, Ryan acquired Castleton Farm near Lexington, Kentucky
Lexington, Kentucky
Lexington is the second-largest city in Kentucky and the 63rd largest in the US. Known as the "Thoroughbred City" and the "Horse Capital of the World", it is located in the heart of Kentucky's Bluegrass region...

 from the Van Lennep Family Trust. Ryan renamed it Castleton Lyons and undertook renovations to the property while returning to its original roots as a thoroughbred operation.

At the time of his death he owned 16% of Tiger Airways
Tiger Airways
Tiger Airways Singapore Pte Ltd, operating as Tiger Airways Singapore, is a low cost airline which commenced services on 25 March 2005. It is a subsidiary of Tiger Airways Holdings, a Singapore-based company, which is owned partially by Singapore Airlines...

, a discount carrier based in Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

 which was founded in December 2003.


Ryan, who lived at Lyons House in Ardclough
Ardclough, officially Ardclogh , is a village and community in the parish of Kill County Kildare, Ireland, two miles off the N7 national primary road. Amongst its buildings today are a national school, a church, Ardclough GAA Club, and one shop "Buggys". Ardclough also contains the historic round...

, County Kildare
County Kildare
County Kildare is a county in Ireland. It is part of the Mid-East Region and is also located in the province of Leinster. It is named after the town of Kildare. Kildare County Council is the local authority for the county...

, died on 3 October 2007, aged 71, following an 18-month battle with pancreatic cancer
Pancreatic cancer
Pancreatic cancer refers to a malignant neoplasm of the pancreas. The most common type of pancreatic cancer, accounting for 95% of these tumors is adenocarcinoma, which arises within the exocrine component of the pancreas. A minority arises from the islet cells and is classified as a...

. He had other homes in London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, Castleton Lyons
Castleton Lyons
Castleton Lyons near Lexington, Kentucky, is an American horse racing stable and breeding business best known by the name Castleton Farm....

 stud in Kentucky
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state located in the East Central United States of America. As classified by the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky is a Southern state, more specifically in the East South Central region. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth...

, Château Lascombes
Château Lascombes
Château Lascombes is a winery in the Margaux appellation of the Bordeaux region of France. The wine produced here was classified as one of fifteen Seconds Crus in the original Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855...

 near Bordeaux
Bordeaux is a port city on the Garonne River in the Gironde department in southwestern France.The Bordeaux-Arcachon-Libourne metropolitan area, has a population of 1,010,000 and constitutes the sixth-largest urban area in France. It is the capital of the Aquitaine region, as well as the prefecture...

 and on Ibiza
Ibiza or Eivissa is a Spanish island in the Mediterranean Sea 79 km off the coast of the city of Valencia in Spain. It is the third largest of the Balearic Islands, an autonomous community of Spain. With Formentera, it is one of the two Pine Islands or Pityuses. Its largest cities are Ibiza...

. His eldest son, Cathal, died just three months later, aged 48, after being diagnosed with cancer.

Further reading

  • Ryanair: How a Small Irish Airline Conquered Europe by Siobhan Creaton
    Siobhan Creaton
    Siobhan Creaton is an Irish writer and journalist. A former Finance Correspondent with The Irish Times, she is a business journalist with the Irish Independent.She authored the first book about Ryanair, the low-fares airline...

     - ISBN 1-85410-992-8: published about Ryanair's success and Tony Ryan's earlier enterprises.

External links

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