Irish America’s Annual Business 100: Who They Are

Irish America's Annual Business 100.

By Irish America Staff
December / January 2003

“There is no denying the influence of American business on the Republic of Ireland. The economy in Ireland has grown more than any other European Union country, and the 585 American companies doing business there have contributed significantly to this success”

–U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Richard Egan


This year’s Business 100 is indeed a celebration of Irish American corporate success. From Chuck Dolan of Cablevision to John Ryan of Macrovision, the executives in the following pages run some of the most powerful corporations in the world.

It is no surprise that so many of our 100 trace their ancestors to Cork and Mayo — two of the largest counties in Ireland and also two that suffered massive emigration in the years following the famine and all throughout the 20th century.

And even as corporate America goes through what financier Peter Lynch would call a major “correction,” it is awesome to consider the heights of power and responsibilities that those American Irish in the following pages command. And it is a good time to remember the Irish ability to overcome despite the odds.

Historians agree that education is one of the key elements in the success of the Irish in America. And colleges that have an Irish identification still have a large part to play in the schooling of today’s business men and women, and, as the list opposite shows, so does Harvard Business School.

Ireland has always enjoyed a special relationship with America. A long history of emigration from Ireland to the U.S. has provided strong familial ties. And today the Irish economy is robust thanks in large part to American investment in Ireland.

There are, as Ambassador Richard Egan reminds us, some 585 American companies doing business in Ireland today (see interview with Egan page 70), who have played a large part in the building of the Irish economy to the point where it is “rocking and socking” today.

Education too played its part in Ireland, and American companies doing business there find not just an ideal geographical location — the gateway to Europe — but a highly educated workforce, with a good background in science and math, as Ambassador Egan also points out.

Though those whose grandparents were born in Ireland top our list, it is interesting to note the number of Irish-born who are making it in corporate America today — almost 9 percent.

Surely some of this success can be traced to the entrepreneurial spirit that Americans and returning emigrants have brought to Ireland.

Whatever generation they are, the Business 100 all take their heritage seriously. Many are members of various groups that are helping Ireland, economically and socially. One of the most significant of those is Chuck Feeney, but we are also proud to have so many others on our list who are on boards that serve their local communities and the American public at large. We thank all of those on our list that took the time to fill out their personal biographical form, and thank our sponsors for their continued support of this annual feature. ♦

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