Thursday, 4 October 2007

Tony Ryan dies age 71

Everybody has heard the name Ryanair before. Most people I assume always wonder, where did the name Ryanair come from? They always hear the name Michael O'Leary, CEO of Ryanair but don't know who actually founded Ryanair. The next few paragraphs will tell you exactly who founded Ryanair and who Tony Ryan was.

Tony Ryan was a founder of Guinness Peat Aviation (GPA) and co-founder of Ryanair 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 airlines in Europe and is valued at several billion euro. Tony Ryan was believed to have a personal fortune ranging between €800million and €1billion. He held honorary doctorates from several universities, including Trinity College, Dublin, the National University of Ireland, Galway and the University of Limerick.During his time at the University of Limerick he competed in the 1956 Olympic Games, finishing 7th in the 10,000 metres. (Tony Ryan did not go to University and the University of Limerick did not exist in 1956). Born in Thurles, County Tipperary, Ryan's initial fortune came from GPA, the Commercial Aircraft Sales and Leasing company which he set up in 1975 with $50,000. The company grew to be worth $4billion (£2 billion) at its peak but its value dramatically collapsed in 1992 after the cancellation of its planned IPO. Ryan made €55million from the sale of AerFi (the successor to GPA) in 2000. Ryan was a tax exile who lived in Monte Carlo, but also owned a stud farm near his home in Newmarket, Co. Tipperary. He was the 7th wealthiest individual from Ireland in the Sunday Times Rich List 2007 with €1,5billion (£1,1billion).Ryan over the years helped nurture two successful business protégés - Denis O'Brien and Michael O'Leary - both of whom became multi-millionaires. Dr Ryan was a generous and innovative founder of University education in Ireland. He donated a marine science institute to NUI Galway in 1993 which was named the Martin Ryan Marine Science Institute in honour of his father, Martin, and showed a great interest in marine science and aquaculture development in the west of Ireland. He also funded The Ryan Academy for Entrepreneurship at Dublin City University.In 2001, Ryan acquired Castleton Farm 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, a discount carrier based in Singapore which was founded in December 2003.

Ryan died on 3 October 2007 after an 18-month battle with pancreatic cancer.

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