Great Irish Business Leaders – Tony O’Reilly

Business | Fri 7 May | Author – Business & Finance
Tony O'Reilly
Pictured: Tony O’Reilly

Great Irish Business Leaders – recognising Tony O’Reilly’s contribution to Ireland.

Before Tony O’Reilly moved from a Lion on the rugby pitch to a leader across global business, the idea of an Irish CEO leading a Fortune 500 corporation was quite simply unheard of. Tony O’Reilly changed that by eventually becoming CEO & Chairman of The HJ Heinz Company at the age of 37 and charting an incredible journey in business and philanthropy, putting brand Ireland at the centre of narratives in boardrooms across the world. 


Keen to use his business success in the United States, Tony, along with Dan Rooney, owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, created The American Ireland Fund (latterly The Ireland Funds) connecting business, politics and philanthropy. The Ireland Funds drove peace and reconciliation on the Island of Ireland onto the agenda in Dublin, Washington and London while raising hundreds of millions of dollars for global Irish causes and projects, work which continues today.

So, on the occasion of his 85th Birthday and in recognition of his immense contribution to Ireland, we wanted to share a special memory from the 2006 Business & Finance Awards honouring Tony. As always, Tony delivered his remarks in perfect theme, tone and wit at what was to become an inflection point for Ireland economically.

Tony may have experienced the ups and downs that business brings along the way, however his legacy as one of Ireland’s greatest global Ambassadors is forever secure. In an incredible life and career Tony has indeed lived the words of Kipling’s ‘If’ – ‘If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, And treat those two impostors just the same’. 

Happy Birthday Tony.