Northern Ireland

Sunday Times Rich List 2024: Rory McIlroy named as richest under 40 in Northern Ireland with fortune of £225m

Lady Ballyedmond and family were named as the richest people in Northern Ireland despite losing their billionaire status

Rory McIlroy was among the early starters on day one of the 106th US PGA Championship (Jeff Roberson/AP)
Rory McIlroy was named as the richest young person in Northern Ireland just days after filing for divorce from Erica Stoll. (Jeff Roberson/AP) (Jeff Roberson/AP)

Rory McIroy has been revealed as Northern Ireland’s richest person under 40, with the Sunday Times Rich List reporting his wealth at £225m - up £25m in 2024.

It follows this week’s shock announcement that the golfer (35) has filed for divorce from his wife of seven years, Erica Stoll.

Winning £1.29m at last summer’s Scottish Open, the golfer’s work on the course is thought to have earned him over £65m.

This is just a portion of his fortune, however, with the bulk of his earnings coming from sponsorship deals with Nike, Omega, TaylorMade and others.

While struggling with his form at last month’s US Masters, finishing in 22nd place, he has also prospered from property in Dubai, New York and Florida.

Robert Watts, compiler of the Sunday Times rich list, told the Irish News: “We don’t change the valuation of someone until after a divorce is finalised, but one would expect that will reduce his wealth at some point” he said, although McIlroy is reported to have signed a pre-nuptial agreement.

“I was very struck by how much he earns away from the golf course, it is significantly more lucrative,” added Mr Watts.

“That was certainly the case with other sports stars like the tennis player Emma Radacanu.”

Rory McIlroy with Erica after Europe regained the Ryder Cup following victory over the USA last year
Rory McIlroy and Erica Stoll have filed for divorce after seven years of marriage

The list has also revealed that Northern Ireland no longer has any billionaires - following a trend with the rich list’s lowest ever number, from a peak of 177 billionaires in 2022 to 165 this year.

The owners of Norbrook Pharmaceuticals - Lady Ballyedmond and family - are the richest people in Northern Ireland, moving from second to first place despite their wealth dropping by £136m to £914m.

Lord Ballyedmond and his wife Mary, pictured at their home in Rostrevor in 2005. Picture by Pacemaker
Lady Ballyedmond, pictured with her late husband in 2005, has regained her title as Northern Ireland's richest person. PICTURE: PACEMAKER

Stephen Fitzpatrick, the co-founder of Ovo Energy and Northern Ireland’s richest person last year, dropped two places with his wealth of £834m falling by a massive 1.378bn since last year.

He is also the founder of Vertical Aerospace, which is developing flying taxis - or electric vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) powered aircraft.

Other entries on the Northern Ireland list include Martin McNaughton and family, of Household Goods company Glen Dimplex, with no change at £850m.

Robert and William Barnett, of food distribution and packaging firm W&R Barnett, were fourth with £645m, up £120m.

Michael Loughran and family, of fuel distributors LCC, also boosted their profits at £604m, up £104m.

“We had two Northern Ireland billionaires last year and they both lost that status for very different reasons,” said Mr Watts.

He said that Lady Ballyedmond’s business wealth has dipped based on the valuation of Norbrook, adding: “Stephen Fitzpatrick is incredibly interesting. His businesses have been built in the UK mainland but he is Belfast-born.

“Both of his main businesses have struggled considerably in the last year. Vertical Aerospace, the flying taxi venture went up on the US stock market in 2021.

“Those shares are down nearly 95%, over the past year they’re down 60%.

“That is a business that could make him a billionaire many times over, it has the potential to.

“It’s a great futuristic venture, but it’s been beset by various issues like getting regulatory approval and some issues around the technology (this included a remotely powered test-flight crashing on a runway last year after a propeller came loose).

“So it’s not taken flight yet.”

Belfast-born Stephen Fitzpatrick was Northern Ireland's richest person last year, but his wealth has dropped by £1.378bn.
Belfast-born Stephen Fitzpatrick was Northern Ireland's richest person last year, but his wealth has dropped by £1.378bn. PICTURE: VERTICAL AEROSPACE

“OVO, his energy company had a difficult year as well with a £1.3bn loss, after being strongly profitable the year before.

“So poor performances with both businesses have taken his billionaire status off him.”

Ovo has previously blamed the losses on the rising cost of energy (after the pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine), which caused them to buy in advance to ensure supply for their customers.

“Throughout the Rich List’s 36-year history there have been people that have vanished without a trace, but people do often bounce back,” said Mr Watts.

A prototype 'floating taxi' from Stephen Fitzpatrick's Vertical Aerospace company crashed during a test-flight last year. PICTURE: AIR ACCIDENTS INVESTIGATION BRANCH
A prototype 'flying taxi' from Stephen Fitzpatrick's Vertical Aerospace company crashed during a test-flight last year. PICTURE: AIR ACCIDENTS INVESTIGATION BRANCH

He said the “billionaire cull” in the UK could be explained by three reasons.

“There’s higher interest rates, inflation, weak economic growth and it’s meant that businesses haven’t been as profitable,” he said.

“The Ballyedmonds would probably be a good example of that.

“Secondly, we’re also seeing the global super rich that are leaving London to go elsewhere. That includes Russia’s wealthiest woman, Yelena Baturina, who has moved to Austria.

“Thirdly, the UK appears to be less attractive for the super rich.

“The London stock market doesn’t seem to have the same allure as places like New York. London property is overvalued in places like Mayfair.”

Another factor was frustration among London’s wealthiest about traffic congestion in the city. A problem, he joked, that Mr Fitzpatrick may just have the answer to.