Alltech founder Pearse Lyons dies

Entrepreneur was born in Dundalk and built Irish-US animal nutrition empire

Pearse Lyons in his distillery in the Liberties. Photograph: Conor McCabe Photography

Pearse Lyons in his distillery in the Liberties. Photograph: Conor McCabe Photography

 

Pearse Lyons, the Irish-born entrepreneur who founded the hugely successful Alltech animal nutrition group, has died in Kentucky at the age of 73.

Mr Lyons had been unwell since November when he entered hospital in the US for routine heart surgery. He suffered complications during his recovery and died on Thursday.

His son, Mark Lyons, who is chairman and president of the group, said he is “deeply saddened”, but vowed to continue his father’s work.

“He saw farther into the horizon than anyone in the industry, and we, as his team, are committed to delivering on the future he envisioned. He planted seeds that will produce a bountiful harvest for the world in the years to come,” said Mr Lyons.

The Alltech founder was born in Dundalk and after attaining a doctorate, he built a career in the brewing industry, where he developed a high-level specialisation in the properties of yeast.

Mr Lyons then applied this knowledge to the animal nutrition industry, and set up Alltech in 1980. He built it up to become one of the most successful Irish-US businesses ever set up by an Irish man, with more than 5,000 staff globally, making him a billionaire in the process.

Set up a distillery

In recent years, he set up a distillery in his name in the Liberties area of Dublin, while Alltech’s European headquarters are in Dunboyne, Co Meath. Alltech’s main base, however, was in Kentucky, where Mr Lyons established himself as a leader in the business community.

Among those to pay tribute to Mr Lyons on Thursday was Mitch McConnell, the US Senate majority leader from Kentucky.

He described Mr Lyons as a “scientist and innovator”.

“For the Lyons family, Kentucky is an adoptive home, and I think I can speak on behalf of all Kentuckians when I say that we are glad he chose to build his life and business here,” said Mr McConnell.

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, ålso extended his sympathies to Mr Lyons’s family, describing the late businessman as “a leader and a visionary”.

Mr Lyons is survived by wife Deirdre, daughter Aoife, son Mark and Mark’s wife Holly. Mr Lyons’s funeral will take place in the US on St Patrick’s Day. A Mass will be also held in Dublin next month.