By Denise McNamara, Galway Advertiser
GLENAMADDY brothers Luke and Brian Comer have been declared yet again the richest people in Connacht, amassing wealth estimated at €906m from their property portfoilio.
The Glenamaddy siblings who started out as plasterers saw their empire drop by €56m – and their position on the Sunday Times Irish Rich List drop two places to 16th.
“A former Hertfordshire private school whose dining hall was used in the first three Harry Potter films is among the Comer brothers’ latest developments. They are building 380 homes at Royal Connaught Park in Bushey, with prices of up to €3.2m. From a base in Barnet, north London, they built a British property portfolio then went into a recession-struck German market buying assets cheaply,” according to the guide.
In 2010, they turned their attention to the Irish economy which was in freefall, buying up the ‘Odeon syndicate’ site on Eyre Square, the Connacht Hotel on the Dublin Road, Connacht’s largest hotel, the former Corrib Great Southern Hotel as well as apartment blocks in Knocknacarra, Newcastle and Oranmore.
They own 80 race horses and five stud farms.
Luke, 59, lives in Monaco while Brian, 57, has a Hertfordshire come complete with golf course.
The next wealthiest Galwegian is Declan Ganley, whose wealth generated through the telecoms industry has dropped €42m to 41m. He lives in Abbeyknockmoy,where he has recently submitted plans to redevelop the Derreen Inn into a prestigious pub and restaurant, renaming it the Edmond Burke.
The Sunday Times reports that he is taking the Mexican Government to court after document boxes were snatched by a thief on a motorcycle just as the Galway businessman’s Rivada Networks prepared to submit a bid to build a €7.44bn mobile network.
“Ganley’s bid was then rejected on the grounds that paperwork was missing and he has threatened the Mexican with legal action in return.”
Born in Watford, Galley, 48, returned with his parents to live in Galway aged 13. Working on building sites before going to Russia to trade in aluminium and later timber, he sold up in 1997 and moved into telecoms and broadband.
Pat and Una McDonagh are third on Galway’s rich list, with their fortune estimated at €196m – up to €2m on last year, ranking them at 61.
The former teacher from Ballinasloe now have over 100 branches of Supermac’s across the country. Their attempts to expand internationally ran into legal trouble with US giant McDonald’s. The couple own the Claddagh restaurant chain in America, the Irish franchise of Papa John’s Pizza, the Loughrea Hotel and Spa, as well as the Barack Obama Plaza in Moneygall, Co. Offaly,and another service station in Loughrea.
A new entrant at 76th – and fourth richest in Galway – is James Murphy, the accountant from Athenry who sold the hair restoration brand Viviscal for €150 in February.
Helped with celebrity endorsements from the likes of Jennifer Aniston and Cate Blanchett, he held a 90% state in the brand.
Murphy, 55, is a member of the singing trio the Galway Tenors.
“His Lifes2good company makes and markets nutraceuticals including anti-ageing products and foot creams. It employs 100 people, including 50 in Galway, with sales of €50m and operating profits of €3m in 2015, making it easily worth €30m,” according to the list.
Now at 92nd place, the brothers behind the Galway-based Symths toys maintain a fortune of €152. Anthony, 60, Padraigh, 59, Thomas, 58, and Liam, 54, Smyth boast 80 stores in the UK and Ireland. Profits on the UK operation rose by more than 55% to nearly €7m on a record turnover of just under €400m.
Placed at 107th, Frank Burke spent 35 years as chairman of the BDL construction before selling the €56m-turnover operation in 2013 to the rival Carey Group,
Burke, 68, has since focused on Farmglade, a property company founded in the 1990s based in Buckingamshire which has built up a portfolio of residential and commercial properties, mostly in central London and the south of England.
Top of the Irish list again are the Weston family, whose translantic retail empire includes Penneys, Brown Thomas and Selfridges is worth 12,353 billion.
Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary joined the billionaire club for the first time at 15th spot, with golfer Rory McIllroy topping the list as the wealthiest sportsman at €96m and singer Niall Horan becoming the youngest on the list with a fortune of €44m. Liam Neeson was named the richest Irish actor on the list, reputedly worth €114m.
The wealthiest individual on the list is Denis O’Brien at €4,7 billion.
U2 are still the wealthiest entertainers in Ireland with a combined wealth of €645m.
The Sunday Times Irish Rich List surveys the wealth of the 300 richest individuals and families in Ireland and the UK using accounts, annual reports, shareholder filings and other sources as well as private information shared by those who feature on the list.