Belfast Telegraph

Revealed: Northern Ireland's richest people from Liam Neeson to Roma Downey and Freddie Linnet

By Joanne Sweeney

She was once considered the second richest woman in the UK after the Queen.

Freddie Linnett used to make tea in her family's property business, now she has a stake in a £508m fortune and a prominent spot in Ireland's rich list.

The Co Armagh-born woman has emerged as one of the richest people in or from Ireland, having been ranked 20th in the 300 Wealthiest People in Ireland list 2015.

Freddie (64) inherited 32% of the Leicester-based property group Charles Street from her uncles Hugh and Paddy Murphy, who also came from Armagh, in the 1990s. At that time she was ranked second to the Queen in terms of female wealth.

Freddie was the highest ranked Northern Ireland figure on the Sunday Independent list which looked at the fortunes amassed by some of our most successful stars in film and sport. Actor Liam Neeson was ranked 110th with £79m while retired racing driver Eddie Irvine was ranked 170th with £55.5m. He had raced ahead of star golfer Rory McIlroy, ranked 188th with £49m.

Famous faces aside, the fortunes were largely built from property and business empires.

The family of Lord Ballyedmond, Edward Haughey, who founded Norbrook laboratories in Newry, are the second richest people in Northern Ireland, with assets valued at £252m.

The self-made multi-millionaire died almost a year ago when the helicopter he was flying in crashed on his Norfolk estate. His widow Mary and sons James and Eddie Jr are reported to have assumed control of Norbrook.

Along with the ownership of the successful animal pharmaceutical company, the Haugheys also have an array of assets such as a £50m home in London's Belgravia, castles in Rostrevor, Co Down, and Cumbria, and a collection of cars, art and antiques.

The family are among the very few from the Top 300 rich list who still live in Northern Ireland.

Also reported as having a £252m fortune is Belfast-born Tim Martin, the man who co-founded Wetherspoons' pub chain. Mr Martin (59), who was raised in Londonderry, owns a 27% stake in the £90.1m chain.

Former Queen's University lecturer and pharmaceutical pioneer John King is the third richest from here. Mr King is said to be worth £233m, having benefited from the sale of Galen in 2004, from which he pocketed £108m.

Actress and producer Roma Downey from Londonderry is the richest Northern Ireland person from the entertainment world, having been ranked as the 47th richest in Ireland. The 54-year-old is reported to be worth £195m as one half of the most successful TV production team in the last decade. Along with husband Mark Burnett, they have produced shows such as The Apprentice, The Voice and Survivor.

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