Former Irish international rugby player and leading businessman Tony O’Reilly dies

Sir Tony O’Reilly, a former Irish international rugby player and one of the country’s leading businessmen, has died aged 88.
Sir Tony, who was also a media magnate, died in St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin on Saturday.

The Irish Rugby Football Union posted on X: “A legend of the game has passed.
“Our deepest sympathies to his family and friends.”
Ireland’s premier Simon Harris has paid tribute to a “trailblazer” who “forged a path that many other international business figures from Ireland would follow”.

In a statement, Sir Tony’s family said: “In the coming days there will be many worthy tributes made to Tony O’Reilly’s unique and extraordinary achievements in the fields of business and sport.
“As well as to his extraordinary philanthropic vision which was best evidenced by the establishment of the Ireland Funds at a dark time in this island’s history.
“But, for us, he was a dearly-loved dad and a granddad.
“He lived one of the great lives and we were fortunate to spend time with him in recent weeks as that great life drew to a close.”

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Born in Dublin in 1936, Sir Tony made his international debut for Ireland in rugby in 1955 and soon became the youngest player to be selected for the British Lions – a team made from players from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
In his business career he pioneered the dairy brand Kerrygold, turning it into one of Ireland’s most well-known global consumer brands.
Sir Tony later became the chairman of the food giant Heinz and in 1973 took control of Independent Newspapers, publisher of the Irish Independent, Sunday Independent and Evening Herald.
He was also known for his philanthropy, setting up The Ireland Funds, which gave money from US donors into reconciliation projects around the Irish border.
Sir Tony, who had joint Irish and British nationality, was knighted in the 2001 New Year Honours by the late Queen Elizabeth II “for long and distinguished service to Northern Ireland”.
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Image: O’Reilly pictured with a carved Maori stick after returning from New Zealand with the British Lions Rugby team in 1959. Pic: PA
Mr Harris said: “It is with great sadness that I have learned of the death of Tony O’Reilly.
“Mr O’Reilly was a giant of sport, business and media and left permanent legacies in all three.
“He was a trailblazer who aimed big on the international business scene.
“Through his work in the UK, US and Ireland he forged a path that many other international business figures from Ireland would follow.
“Modern day Ireland likes to see itself as an island in the centre of the world – Tony O’Reilly was one of the first Irish businesspeople to truly believe that.”

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Ireland’s deputy premier Micheal Martin wrote on X: “Saddened to learn of the passing of Tony O’Reilly a pioneering spirit who had an extraordinary impact on Irish business, sport, media and society.
“Through the Ireland Funds, Tony changed the global narrative on peace and reconciliation on this island.
“My deepest sympathies to his children, family and friends.”
Sir Tony leaves behind six children.

Source : Sky News