Ali Hewson is an Irish businesswoman and activist. In the 1990s, Hewson joined the anti-nuclear movement and started working with activists like Adi Roche. In 2002, she played a key role in organizing campaigns against the Sellafield nuclear facility in England. As a businesswoman, Hewson has co-founded a skincare company and a fashion label called Nude skincare and EDUN respectively.
Irish media magnate Denis O’Brien, the owner of Communicorp and Digicel, got his first lessons in salesmanship from his father, who was pharma salesman. While in school, he excelled in rugby. Named one of the World's Top 200 Billionaires in 2015, he owns a philanthropic foundation, too.
Dublin-born footballer Niall Quinn made waves as a striker for clubs such as Arsenal, Sunderland, and Manchester City. Known for his towering 6’4” frame, he won a Football League Cup with Arsenal. His popularity can be gauged by the fact that his fans created a song, Niall Quinn's Disco Pants, just for him.
Indian-born businessman Cyrus Pallonji Mistry, son of billionaire Pallonji Mistry of the Shapoorji Pallonji group and an influential member of Mumbai’s Parsi community, chaired the Tata Group briefly. He was, however, voted out of his chairmanship over disagreements with the Tata family. Mistry is an Irish citizen through his Irish-born mother.
Apart from being the mother of Thin Lizzy lead singer Phil Lynott, Philomena Lynott also made her mark as an author, with her memoir My Boy. She learned about Phil’s struggle with drug addiction after he collapsed in his home. Phil died soon after, following which Philomena became a campaigner against drug abuse.
Tony O'Reilly excelled in various sports as a child, including football and cricket, but later chose rugby as his career path. Apart from being a famed Irish rugby player, he had also been a successful businessman, heading H.J. Heinz Company as its CEO. A debt issue led him to be declared bankrupt later.
Singer Sinéad O'Carroll rose to fame in the 1990s with the girl pop band B*Witched, churning out hits such as C'est la Vie. She later appeared on shows such as Dancing with the Stars and once opened up about her struggle with mental illness, financial losses, and phobias, which she overcame.
The founder of Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair, Tony Ryan had to give up his studies at 18, following his father’s death, and take up jobs. He first tasted success in the aircraft leasing arena, with Guinness Peat Aviation. He also made significant charitable contributions to various Irish educational institutes.
Apart from being a barrister, Lucinda Creighton has been an Irish minister of state for European Affairs. A prominent leader of Renua and Fine Gael, she made significant contributions to Ireland’s EU/IMF bailout and later served as the CEO of Vulcan Consulting, a company she co-established with her husband.
Best known as Vicky Boyle from the Acorn TV series Harry Wild, Irish actor Danielle Ryan has also won hearts with her stage performances in plays such as The Cordelia Dream. The granddaughter of Ryanair founder Tony Ryan, Danielle has also founded a drama school and works with UNICEF, too.
Irish politician and former Tánaiste Dick Spring was a great sportsman in his early years, excelling in Gaelic football, rugby, and hurling. Born to Labour politician Dan Spring, he quickly rose to become a Labour leader and also held several ministries, including foreign affairs. He has also been a prominent businessman.
Apart from being the wife of Irish golfer Darren Clarke, Alison Campbell, née Smyth, has also been a successful model and a former Miss Northern Ireland. Now a successful entrepreneur in her own right, she owns a modeling agency, with clients such as Zoe Salmon from Blue Peter.
Born into a poor peasant family, Marcus Daly was 14 when he arrived in New York as an Irish refugee. He started his career unloading ships and then worked as a ranch boy and a railroad worker, eventually taking over the copper mining industry and emerging as a Copper King of Montana.
Timothy Eaton has gone down in history as the founder of one of Canada’s largest retail giants, Eaton’s. Initially a general store apprentice in Ireland, he later sailed to Canada, where he opened his own store, introducing cash sales, fixed price, and better work conditions for retail employees.
The story of Irish business magnate Bill Cullen is one of the rags-to-riches kind. Born to a fruit seller mother, he started trading at an early age. He struck gold with Ford dealership and later also owned Renault Ireland. He has penned a bestselling memoir and hosted the show The Apprentice.
Born to park ranger parents, Irish entrepreneur Norah Casey grew up loving animals and even worked in Dublin Zoo for a while. She then studied nursing but moved on to journalism later, working with Sky and BBC. She now owns the publishing giant Harmonia, the name behind magazines such as Food&Wine.
Following the Irish Potato Famine, Irish-born Nellie Cashman and her family moved to the US. She launched a boarding house with her mother in Nevada and soon opened several restaurants. She led a rescue team to trapped gold miners in Cassiar and later became a gold prospector herself.
A well-known South African socialite and businesswoman, Hazel Crane once smuggled diamonds and worked at a strip club. She had also been a nurse. She was gunned down while traveling in her car to testify against Israeli mafia boss Lior Saat. Her interesting life later became public through her post-humous memoir.
Apart from being a politician, Christopher Bland was also a successful entrepreneur and headed various organizations, such as the Independent Television Authority, the Royal Shakespeare Company, and British Telecommunications. Once an Olympic fencer for Ireland, the Oxford alumnus later also owned a vineyard and penned a novel.
Irish-born George Croghan, The King of the Traders, later moved to America, where he was successful in befriending the local tribes of the Ohio region. Over the years, he got many treaties signed on behalf of the British government and had a 16-year stint as the Deputy Superintendent of Indian Affairs.