28 September 2012 No Comments by The Northern Standard

The death occurred on Saturday last of Monaghan’s wealthiest emigrant, Mr Eamon Cleary, a property developer and racehorse owner who had been regularly listed on New Zealand’s National Business Review ‘Rich List’ — and who had been a prominent supporter of the University of Otago, where he established the Chair in Irish Studies in 2006.
Mr Cleary’s net worth was estimated at just under €800 million by the NBR in July of this year, and he had been valued at up to €1.3 billion in recent years. He had initially amassed the greater part of his fortune by acquiring cheap farmland in New Zealand during the 1990s recession and converting it to highly profitable dairy farm operations. From there, he went on to establish businesses in New Zealand, eastern and western Europe, Argentina, Chile, and the US.
Originally from Drumlane, Tullynahinera, Castleblayney, Mr Cleary, who was aged 52, died at his stud farm in Kentucky, USA following a six-month battle with cancer.
Normally shy of publicity, he had come to media attention for all the right reasons in October 2007 when his endowment a year earlier of a Chair of Irish Studies at the University of Otago — the oldest university in New Zealand — had been praised by the Irish President, Mary McAleese.
Mr Cleary left school in Ballybay at the age of 11 to work on his father’s farm. Four years later he was apprenticed to a block layer and at 17 started his own building business.
By the time he was in his twenties in the early 1980s he had started his own pre-cast concrete and reinforcing steel company. He went on to develop a large agricultural supply business, which was sold in 1991.
Mr Cleary married at the age of 24, and went on to have eight children.
In the mid 1990s he moved to New Zealand and established a business career with substantial land and property investments in both the north and south islands. He had also …

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