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This Irish start-up landed €15 million from a secret millionaire (after meeting in a pub)

Irish TV will launch next week, targeting the world-wide Irish diaspora.

Irish TV interviewing Brian Cody and Liam Griffin
Irish TV interviewing Brian Cody and Liam Griffin

MAYO DIGITAL TV start-up Irish TV will launch its full content schedule next Tuesday, targeting the Irish diaspora with original and syndicated content.

However, it could have worked out differently for husband and wife team Pierce and Mairead O’Reilly, who founded the company in 2011, were it not for a meeting in a London pub with London multi-millionaire John Griffin.

The O’Reillys had managed to raises some venture capital, and had backing from Enterprise Ireland, but the cupboard was bare when Pierce went to London around a year ago to drum up funds for the company.

Rock bottom

“We were at rock bottom with a great project”, Mairead O’Reilly told TheJournal.ie. ”We sent Pierce over with only a few bob in his pocket and he met (Griffin) in a bar through a mutual friend.”

The next day he had a cheque for €50,000…we all cried that night.

Griffin, who has roots in Mayo and previously appeared on the British TV show The Secret Millionaire, sold his minicab company Addison Lee for £300 million last year to private equity player Carlyle Capital.

He’s since made good on the initial investment, providing the lion’s share of a €15 million investment into the company in preparation for a fully fledged assault on the Irish diaspora market.

Irish TV will officially launch on Sky TV next week, although it has been broadcasting since May. The company employs 30 people based in Westport, and has used a further 96 freelancers to make content for the channel.

The channel’s flagship programme will be 32 weekly half hour slots, one for news and features from each county in Ireland. On top of this, Irish TV is in talks with national broadcasters about syndicating content.

It is also understood to be in negotiations with UPC, which could open up more European markets for the channel. Next year the O’Reillys hope to expand into America and has opened up talks with the major networks there.

It was announced today that the company has secured a licence – essentially a broadcasting permit – from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, enabling it to continue broadcasting from its base here.

Read: Pat Kenny announces he’ll be joining UTV Ireland>

Read: Mini makeover for Tv3 with new documentary unit and evening show>

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About the author:

Jack Horgan-Jones

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