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Sir Anthony O'Reilly (1936 - 2024)

AUTHORs: Patrick Spicer Date: 20/05/2024

It is with great sadness that we note the recent passing of well-known Irish businessman, sports star and philanthropist, Sir Anthony O’Reilly.

Sir Anthony was one of Ireland’s best known and highly regarded businessmen, whose impact on Irish industry spanned decades.  He was a major media owner and an influential business leader, and his tenure at leading brands such as Kerrygold, Irish Sugar, Heinz, Waterford Wedgwood and Independent News & Media, made him a leading light of the Irish business community.

He qualified as a solicitor in 1958, having graduated near the top of his class in University College Dublin.  Although he never practiced law, his legal training stood him in good stead and we were honoured to have him serve as Chairperson of Matheson for over twenty years, from 1992 to 2013.

His philanthropic vision was best evidenced in 1976 when he, together with former US Ambassador to Ireland, the late Dan Rooney, established what would become the Ireland Funds to promote peace, culture and charity in Ireland.  The Ireland Funds has been one of the largest donors to the island of Ireland in the cause of peace, is still in operation today and will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2026.  His work with the Ireland Funds led to him receiving a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II in 2001, the first full knighthood to be awarded to an Irish citizen.

Matheson Chairperson, Patrick Spicer said, “Tony O’Reilly had an enormous impact on Irish business life, one which has been well documented.  He was also an inspirational sporting figure with a long career and record-breaking performances on the rugby pitch, representing Old Belvedere, Ireland, the British & Irish Lions and the Barbarians.  In addition, his vision and dedication in successfully establishing the Ireland Funds has had a transformative impact on peace in communities across this island, and will live on as a major part of his legacy.”

The entire Matheson team, past and present, is greatly saddened at the news of his passing and we send our deepest condolences to his family and friends.”



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