Irish business magnate and rugby legend Sir Tony O’Reilly passes away at 88


Tony O'Reilly - Tony O' Reilly 1959, tags: sir rugby - CC BY-SA

Sir Tony O’Reilly, a renowned entrepreneur, media tycoon, and previous rugby representative for Ireland and the British and Irish Lions, passed away at the age of 88 in Dublin, Ireland.

He passed away peacefully on Saturday in St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin following a brief illness.

At the tender age of 18, Sir Tony, a Dublin native, began his international rugby career for Ireland and went on to join the esteemed ranks of the British and Irish Lions, making him their youngest member.

In the world of business, he is renowned for pioneering the successful dairy brand Kerrygold, transforming it into a globally recognized consumer brand.

Post-Heinz, he became the proprietor of Independent Newspapers in 1973, subsequently growing it into a global media powerhouse with newspapers in Europe, South Africa, Australia, the UK, and New Zealand.

Sir Tony was also a generous philanthropist, establishing The Ireland Funds to provide financial support for reconciliation projects along the Irish border from US donors.

Sir Tony’s legacy

A true sportsman, he earned 29 caps for Ireland, scoring four tries in total against France, Scotland, Wales, and France once more.

His legacy extends beyond the rugby field as a successful entrepreneur, amassing significant wealth and using it to invest in various industries and companies in Ireland.

With a joint Irish and British nationality, Sir Tony was knighted by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 2001 for his long and distinguished service to Northern Ireland.

The Castlemartin estate in Kildare was where he chose to reside during his later stages of life.

His family has announced that they will hold a funeral in Dublin next week.

Tributes and condolences

Tributes have poured in from various organizations and individuals recognizing Sir Tony’s impact on Irish business, sports, media, and society.

In the coming days, there will be many worthy tributes made to Tony O’Reilly’s unique and extraordinary achievements in the fields of business and sport.

O’Reilly’s family

Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister Micheál Martin shared his condolences, stating, “Saddened to learn of the passing of Tony O’Reilly, a pioneering spirit who had an extraordinary impact on Irish business, sport, media, and society.”

Leo Varadkar, former Taoiseach, added, “There can be no doubt he was an impressive entrepreneur and one of the first to show Ireland could do business and succeed economically.”

The Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) also paid their respects, acknowledging Sir Tony’s contributions as a rugby player.

Sir Tony leaves behind six children who will remember him fondly for his remarkable achievements and enduring legacy.

During his career, he demonstrated resilience, ambition, and vision – traits that continue to inspire future generations in both business and sports.

His passing marks the end of an era for Irish business, sports, media, and the society in general but he leaves behind a rich legacy to remember and celebrate.

Sir Tony’s life serves as a testament to the power of determination, hard work, and the pursuit of excellence.

An iconic figure

The Dublin community mourns the loss of an iconic figure who has left an indelible mark on its history.

His journey from young rugby player to successful businessman offers lessons for aspiring entrepreneurs and athletes alike.

Sir Tony’s legacy extends beyond Ireland, as his impact reached across various industries and countries, touching the lives of many.

There can be no doubt he was an impressive entrepreneur and one of the first of a generation to show Ireland could do business and succeed economically.

Leo Varadkar

The business world has lost a visionary leader who paved the way for future generations to thrive and succeed.

In sports, he leaves behind a record-breaking career that continues to inspire new generations of rugby players and fans.

Sir Tony O’Reilly will be forever remembered as an extraordinary individual whose contributions to Irish sports, business, media, and society will never be forgotten.

He will be deeply missed by his loved ones, friends, colleagues, and the wider community.

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