Tony O’Reilly, Independent Newspapers Media Mogul and Businessman, Dies at 88

The storied Irishman took control of the Irish Independent, Sunday Independent and Evening Herald publisher in 1973

Tony O'Reilly (Credit: David Levenson/Getty Images)
Tony O'Reilly (Credit: David Levenson/Getty Images)

Tony O’Reilly, the Irish media mogul, businessman and hall-of-fame athlete, has died following a short illness. He was 88.

O’Reilly’s family confirmed his death in a statement to media Saturday. “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,” the statement read.

“As well as his extraordinary philanthropic vision which was best evidenced by the establishment of the Ireland Funds at a dark time in this island’s history,” the family continued. “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.”

O’Reilly’s career in media began when he bought Independent Newspapers (now Independent News & Media) in 1973 and became the publisher of three outlets: Irish Independent, Sunday Independent and Evening Herald. The company eventually assumed control of 38 newspaper titles and 70 radio stations in South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.

He was also a professional rugby player for Ireland and won the country 29 caps between 1955 and 1970. (A cap typically denotes the number of times a player plays for their national team against another national team.) O’Reilly joined the IRFU Commercial Committee after he retired from the game, and was in the first class of inductees to the International Rugby Hall of Fame in 1997.

Irish Rugby honored O’Reilly on X (formerly Twitter), writing, “A legend of the game has passed. Our deepest sympathies to his family and friends. First capped at 18 he won 29 @irishrugby caps and was a hero of the @lionsofficial. Sir Anthony O’Reilly RIP.”

O’Reilly was born in Dublin on May 7, 1936.

The Irish Times first reported the news.

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