Irish people have been the brains behind huge companies and inventions over the years, so let’s take a look at the top ten richest and most successful Irish entrepreneurs in recent memory.
You may have heard some of these names before, but did you know that they are among the richest people in Ireland, so go ahead and scroll down to check them out, some of these may even surprise you.
Here are the top ten richest and most successful Irish entrepreneurs in recent memory.
Meanwhile in Ireland’s overview of the richest and most successful Irish entrepreneurs in recent memory
The origin of the wealth of these successful Irish entrepreneurs varies and changes, but here is a quick overview with a few facts:
- There are approximately 223,000 households in Ireland that have a net-worth of over 1 million euros. In total, there are 8 billionaires on the Emerald Isle.
- Now, based on GDP per capita, Ireland is one of the richest countries in the world. According to the IMF in 2023, Ireland’s GDP per capita is 145,000, which is the highest in the world.
- Some of the wealthiest people below have earned their wealth from the likes of aviation and air travel, fast-food chains, dairy products, the footballing world, and the media.
- Denis O’Brien, who tops the list of the most successful Irish entrepreneur in recent memory, has carved out his wealth from telecommunication and media ventures, most notably Digicel.
- Other notable figures include the likes of Dermot Desmond, the majority shareholder at Celtic FC, and Willie Walsh, the CEO of airline company Aer Lingus.
10. Pat McDonagh – former school teacher turned multi-millionaire
McDonagh is the brains behind the fast-food chain Supermacs, which are dotted all around the country.
Interestingly, he started the restaurant when he was denied planning permission for a pool hall in his native Galway in 1978. We bet he has no regrets now!
As well as this, he also owns the franchise rights to Papa John’s Pizza, owns various hotels all over the country, and is behind the very modern travel plazas laid out around the country, including the Barack Obama Plaza in Moneygall.
9. Tony O’Reilly – former Irish rugby union player
Tony O’Reilly has been involved in the Independent News and Media group, has been a professional rugby player, is the former CEO of the H.J Heinz company, and has developed the famous national brand Kerrygold, which we all know and love, all of which have made him a multi-millionaire.
8. Michael O’Leary – the man behind Ryanair’s success
Having originally started out as a PA for the company to eventually become the chief executive, he got Ryanair through the infamous recession and is now one of the richest people in the country.
7. Moya Doherty – co-founder of Riverdance and Tyrone Productions
Born in Donegal and raised in Dublin, Moya is one of the co-founders and producers of Riverdance, which became a hit when it made its debut during the Eurovision interval in 1994.
She is also the director of Tyrone Productions and a founding director of the popular radio station Today FM.
6. Tony Ryan – a net worth of a whopping €800m
A Kildare man, Tony Ryan was the co-founder of Ryanair, which has now become one of the biggest airlines in Europe, as well as being the co-founder of Tiger Airways.
He was listed as the 7th wealthiest person from Ireland in the Sunday Independent 2007.
5. Eddie Jordan – Irish Kart Championship winner
Motorsport team boss, businessman, and TV personality, Jordan started off working in a bank but went on to make his millions in the motorsport industry.
He founded Jordan Grand Prix, was a chief analyst for Formula One coverage on BBC, and became a presenter on the hit show Top Gear.
4. Séan Gallagher – featured on RTE’s Dragon’s Den
Having co-founded Smarthomes in 2000, this TV personality went on to do much more, including being an active member of Fianna Fáil, a panellist on the popular entrepreneurial TV show Dragon’s Den, and has also been a journalist and motivational speaker.
3. Willie Walsh – former CEO of Aer Lingus
Walsh is the former CEO of Aer Lingus and British Airways.
Having been involved in the aviation industry for many years, he is responsible for taking on Aer Lingus in 2001 and steering the airline in the right direction, making some vast changes, and thus driving its success.
He then became the CEO of IAG, which is the parent company of British Airways and Iberia.
2. Dermot Desmond – net worth €2.04bn
Ranked as the 9th richest person in Ireland by Sunday Independent, Desmond is the largest individual shareholder of Celtic Football Club.
He began working in CitiBank but went on to establish his own mortgage brokers and subsequently sell the business on to Ulster Bank.
He has been chairman of Aer Rianta, was offered the same position for Aer Lingus, once bought London City airport, and even purchased the luxurious Sandylane resort in Barbados.
1. Denis O’Brien – Ireland’s richest
To have the title of ‘Ireland’s richest native-born citizen’ says something when it comes to being successful.
Having founded Digicel and Communicorp, he has worked his way up to being Ireland’s leading entrepreneur and has been listed among the world’s top 200 billionaires in 2015.
Each entrepreneur listed has a very different story. Still, it just goes to show that no matter where you start, your career can take you on a wild journey that could one day lead you to be on a list of the ten richest and most successful Irish entrepreneurs.
Delve into the history of the O’Brien surname with this article on O’Brien: surname meaning, origin and popularity, explained.
Your questions answered about the richest and most successful Irish entrepreneurs of recent memory
If you have read our article on this topic and still want some further questions answered, we have you covered! In this section, we have put together some of the most commonly asked questions about the richest and most successful Irish entrepreneurs of recent memory.
Who are 5 successful entrepreneurs?
Five of the most successful entrepreneurs today would be Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Larry Ellison.
What is Ireland’s oldest company?
Ireland’s oldest company is Rathborne Candles, which was established way back in 1488 by a member of the Rathborne family in the town of Chester, England.
Who is the richest entrepreneur of all time?
The current richest entrepreneur in the world is Elon Musk, owner of the likes of Twitter and Tesla. He is estimated to be worth $269 billion.
What is the oldest Irish business outside of Ireland?
The oldest Irish business outside of Ireland is Browne’s, which was founded back in 1887. It is an Irish marketplace found in Kansas City.