Ireland’s richest are €4.1bn better off

Despite almost four years of recession, Ireland’s richest are getting even richer.

The combined total of the nation’s wealthiest people now stands at €46.7bn, up from €43.6bn in 2011, and enough to see off much of the total indebtedness of the State.

Despite a drop in wealth last year of €122m, retailer Hilary Weston and her family are Ireland’s richest residents for the fourth year running, according to the latest survey of Irish wealth by the Sunday Times.

Dublin-born Ms Weston, 70, and her husband, Galen, who is Canada’s second richest man, own a chain of department stores, including Brown Thomas.

Denis O’Brien, the mobile phone and media owner is Ireland’s second richest person, in spite a fall of €427m in the past year. He is the biggest shareholder in Independent News & Media.

Mr O’Brien is chairman and principal shareholder of the privately owned Digicel Group, one of the fastest growing mobile phone companies in the world. He also has investments in international radio, media, property, aircraft leasing, golf and other leisure interests. He founded the Esat Telecom Group and built it throughout the 1990s until its sale to British Telecom for €2.4bn.

The third wealthiest is John Dorrance, 68, who has a fortune of €1.8bn, up almost €400m on last year. He inherited shares in Campbell Soup, the company his grandfather founded.

A new entry among Ireland’s richest is Liam Casey, 46, the industrialist known as Mr China. His Cork-based PCH International electronics firm, which supplies accessories to global industry leaders such as Sony and Apple, has netted him a fortune of €133m.

Among the Irish rich-listers whose fortunes have improved over the past year are Bono and U2, Michael O’Leary, Dermot Desmond, Larry Goodman, Margaret Heffernan of Dunnes Stores, and David Power of Paddy Power Bookmakers.

Among the list’s losers — but still remaining hugely wealthy — are Michael Smurfit, Tony O’Reilly, the Sisk family, Michael Flatley, John Magnier, and JP McManus.

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