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Northern Ireland's richest people - How loaded are Rory McIlroy, Liam Neeson and Van Morrison?

Northern Ireland’s richest businessmen, sporting stars and actors have amassed billions of pounds in personal fortunes despite the economic downturn, writes Lindsay Fergus

Published 12/03/2013

41. John McGuckian £30M
Textiles, up £2.6m
Ballymena man
McGuckian's textile
firm makes bombproof
jockstraps for
the US marines among
other products. He also
owns a large share portfolio
that includes stakes
in UTV.
41. John McGuckian £30M Textiles, up £2.6m Ballymena man McGuckian's textile firm makes bombproof jockstraps for the US marines among other products. He also owns a large share portfolio that includes stakes in UTV.
40. Rory McIlroy £33M Golfer, new entry Just 23 and world number one, McIlroy recently landed a record 10-year £163m Nike sponsorship deal.
39. Seamus McAleer £38M Construction, down £3m McAleer and Rushe has built 12,000 hotel rooms.
38. Paul McGowan £40M Retail, up £5m Having sold A-Wear last year, McGowan's group Hilco still retains Habitat, Denby and Borders. The group took control of HMV earlier this year.
37. Brian and Laurence Martin £40M Plastics, up £1.75m The roofs at Thomond Park and Chelsea's Stamford Bridge, riot shields, and props for French spy movies are a few of the products made by this Antrim specialist plastic sheeting firm.
36. Billy Hastings £42M Hotels, down £3m The owner of the Europa and Culloden hotels among others, Hastings has seen a dip due to economic downturn.
35. Geoffrey Elliot £42M Pharmecuticals, up £870,000 When Galen was taken over the ex-finance chief is thought to have earned €70m (£61m). His new firm Hillmark has invested in pharmaceuticals and property.
34. Paul Hunt £45M Drinks distributor, up £870,000 Through Wine Inns and James E McCabe, Hunt and family are Northern Ireland’s biggest booze importers
33. Van Morrison £50M Music, down £870,000 Still bringing the tunes, Van The Man's assets have fallen slightly but he still has homes in Dalkey, Bath and Belfast.
32. John and Darren Donnelly £50M Trucks, down £1.75m Their Retlan Holdings is one of Europe’s biggest truck trailer-makers. It also operates the Antrim engineering businesses SDC and MDF.
31.John and Darren Donnelly £52M Meat processing, up £9.5m Foyle Meats is one of the largest beef processors in Ulster.
30. Brian Conlon £54M Financial services, up £8m The ex-footballer from Newry has boosted his stake in First Derivatives with dividends, rents and other income.
29. Michael Herbert £56.5M Property, down £33m Fast food tycoon Herbert runs Europe's largest chain of KFC franchises as well as having a few Haagen-Daz stores and a property portfolio. However, unsurprisingly this has been hit by the property slump.
28. Andrew Creighton and Frank Boyd £64M Property, down £136m Property firm William Ewart has shed the value of many of its UK properties over the years due to the property slump. But they continue to run one of the biggest property companies in Northern Ireland.
27. Mark Hunter £65M Software, up £9m In 2008 Hunter sold his software installation company for a personal stake of £44m and now finances early start-up firms. Born in Belfast, he collects shoes and guitars and drives a Porsche.
26. Eddie Irvine £65M F1 and property, up £4m Not just a pretty face, F1 driver Eddie Irvine made shrewd investments with the £39m he earned while driving for Jordan. As well as a global property portfolio of up to 50 properties he is said to have invested in a shipping firm and online printing. It emerged in February that he had made a £3.5m profit on the sale of one of his Miami beach houses.
25. Liam Neeson £65M Hollywood actor, up £4m Ballymena's favourite son has seen his star rise with the Taken franchise in recent years. Now living in New York, he can command upwards of £7m a film.
24. Kevin Cheevers £69M Civil engineering, up £1.75m Having invested the profits from the sale of his car business in 1996 in shopping centres, he also has a stake in engineering firm McLaughlin and Harvey, responsible for Belfast buildings such as the Stena Terminal.
23. raymond Hutchison and family £72M Crisps, down £23.5m The Manderlay group own the 17th century Tayto Castle in Armagh as well as a £2.6m Augusta Chopper. The group has seen falling profits due to rising material costs and a weak local economy.
22. Lord Rana £72M Hotels, down £4m Based in Northern Ireland since 1981, Lord Rana's hotel business has fallen in net worth recently due to a weak domestic economy.
21. Harvey McGrath £74M Finance, down £30m Known for art collecting and philanthropy, Belfast-born McGrath made his money by managing hedge funds and later chaired Prudential Insurance. He lives in London's Holland Park and chairs the London enterprise board.
20. Murphy family £74M Rubbish, down £1.75m The Clearway Group has become one of the biggest waste management firms on both sides of the border, having been set up in the 1960s by the late Portadown man John Murphy. The firm is now run by his family.
19. Peter Fitzgerald £76.5M Biotech, up £2.5m Antrim firm Randox came from humble beginnings, having started in a chicken coop behind Peter Fitzgerald's house 30 years ago. Today 8% of the world's clinical chemical products are
18. Barney Eastwood £77M Bookmaking, down £13m Barry McGuigan's manager Barney Eastwood was Northern Ireland's best-known bookie when he sold his company to Ladbrokes in 2008. He and his family are now investors in the Somerston Hotel Group.
17. Paul Smith and Sarah King £84M Television, up £17m Having made his fortune when he came up with the concept of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, Belfast producer Smith was quidsin when he sold off part of the rights to the show to Celador in 2006. He put up the £10m budget for Slum Dog Millionaire. The film grossed over £244m worldwide. 110. BARNEY
16. Jim and Jack Dobson £92M Meat, up £1.75m Dunbia is one of the largest lamb processors in Europe and it all started 40 years ago when the brothers bought a butchers with the aim of expanding into meat processing.
15. Harold Montgomery £99M Trucks, new entry Ballyvessey Holdings saw profits nearly double in 2011. The Newtownabbey-based truck-maker is one of the largest of its kind in Europe.
14. Martin and Geoffrey Agnew £100M Retail, up £13m With Spar, Vivo and VG franchises, the Agnews almost have the convenience market sewn up in Northern Ireland. Between them they control
13. The Eakin family £108M Healthcare, up £7m It may not be the most glamorous way to make millions but the Belfast pharmacist's company TG Eakin has become a world leader in specialist wound care.
12. Edward Longergan £109M Property, up £9m Office blocks, shopping centres and industrial units from Belfast to Cambridge via Glasgow make up the portfolio of Deramore, headed by the Belfast property developer.
11. Maureen Wheeler £109M Travel books, down £11m Taking her travels and sharing with the world has made The Lonely Planet guides a household name for Maureen Wheeler. Having been bought out by BBC Worldwide, Maureen and husband Tony set up Planet Wheeler, a philanthropic organisation supporting 60 projects worldwide.
10. Chris Watson and family £113M Cycling — new entry George and Janice Watson set up Chain Reactions in Antrim 25 years ago. Going online in 1999 saw huge growth for the cycle firm, which paid £3m in dividend last year.
9. Bill McCabe £117M Technology, up £3m Belfast economics graduate and pioneer of e-learning, McCabe now lives in what has been described as ‘Dublin's finest privately owned residence' in the south of the city. His investments range from the German property market to waste companies and a millionaires’ club.
8. Chris Rea £131M Engineering, up £44m The Yorkshirebased specialist engineering firm was valued at £105m when private equity firm 3i bought a 40% share in 2007. Since then profits have trebled for Belfast-born Rea who owns the rest of it.
7. Kevin and Michael Lagan £132M Cement, up £4m Last year the brothers fell out and their building and cement firm has been split between them. Thanks to the family row Kevin runs Lagan Group and Michael Lagan Construction.
6. Ted kelly £133M Insurance, new entry The Armagh man heads Liberty Mutual, the insurer that took over Quinn Insurance two years ago. He’s one of the highest paid bosses in the US.
5. Danny Hill £165M Property, up £9m Having made his fortune by investing shrewdly in Australian Gold Coast real estate, the 70- year-old Belfast man moved with wife Charlotte and their two children to Monaco in 2003.
4. Tim Martin £183M Pubs, up £35m Belfast-born Martin saw the profits of Wetherspoons pub chain rebound with the London Olympics last year. The 6ft 5in tycoon retains a £165m stake in the chain he founded in 1979.
3. Sam Morrison £203M Property, down £12m The property slump in Northern Ireland has resulted in Morrison's company Corbo, which develops retail parks, losing more than £4m last year. But Corbo has plans to create a £218m retail centre in Omagh. Morrison started out by selling leather jackets from his car.
2. Roma Downey £222M TV production, up £13m The Londonderry actress was star of TV series Touched By An Angel for almost 10 years. Then she married TV producer Mark Burnett. He made his millions by inventing reality TV shows such as The Apprentice, The Voice and Are You Smarter Than A Ten Year Old. Their next venture is an epic TV series on the Bible.
1. Eddie Haughey £366M Animal health, down £35m Alongside Norbrook, Northern Ireland's top industrialist owns an estate in Rostrevor, a castle in Cumbria, homes in Belgravia Square, London, and Fitzwilliam Square, Dublin, and is known as Lord Ballyedmond.

A total of 41 movers and shakers have made it on to a list of Ireland’s wealthiest people with an accumulated pot of more than £3.8bn.

However, that figure is nothing when you compare it to the mammoth fortune of the richest man in Ireland, the India-based industrialist Pallonji Mistry and his family who are worth a staggering £7bn — almost double Northern Ireland’s 41 multi-millionaires’ combined total.

According to this year’s Sunday Independent Rich List, which features the wealthiest 300 people in the Republic and Northern Ireland, just three people from here make it into the top 50.

They are entrepreneur Eddie Haughey with £366m, Londonderry-born actress Roma Downey with £222m and property boss Sam Morrison with £203m.

Although still out in pole position in Northern Ireland sitting at position 26, and well clear of his closest rival Roma Downey at position 43, Mr Haughey has seen his wealth spiral down by £35m, costing him two places in this year’s Rich List.

Overall the past year has been a good one for Northern Ireland’s super rich with 23 of them seeing their fortunes rise despite the challenging economic global climate that has seen so many businesses go to the wall and so many of their executives file for bankruptcy.

The biggest winner was Chris Rea — not the popular singer — who climbed 23 places to 71 in the Rich List but has also seen his wealth soar by £44m to £131m.

The Queen’s University Belfast graduate is best known as the founder of manufacturing firm AESSEAL.

However, 14 of our multi-millionaires saw their fortunes decline, in particular Andrew Creighton and Frank Boyd who saw their wealth fall to £64m, a loss of £136m.

The property magnates were hit hard by the property slump that has claimed so many of their rivals in recent years.

However, they do continue to run one of the biggest property companies in Northern Ireland.

Other losers in the property downturn were Sam Morrison who lost £12m and Michael Herbert who saw £33m wiped off his assets.

While four new names from here made it into the Rich List, another four well-known personalities disappeared out of the coveted top 300 slots.

The new faces are insurance boss Ted Kelly, Chris Watson and his family who own the Chain Reaction bicycle firm which has enjoyed a spectacular rise to global success, truck maker Harold Montgomery and of course the world number one golfer, Rory McIlroy.

Those who have been knocked out are developer Shamus Jennings who was 119 last year with £67m, newspaper owner Lord Kilclooney who was 267th with £23m, football manager Martin O’Neill from Kilrea who was 280th with £21m and golfer Darren Clarke who claimed the last slot, 300, with £18m.

The golfer revealed recently that he lost a lot of money through his purchase of a private jet, which he described as “a money pit”.

However, he said he wasn’t too concerned about money and was happy as long as he was playing golf well.

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