Tayto Park's Ray Coyle sank €10m of his own cash into its massive roller coaster

The Meath entrepreneur’s investment firm bankrolled most of the Cú Chulainn Coaster’s construction.

By Paul O'Donoghue Reporter, Fora

IRISH BUSINESSMAN RAY Coyle dug into his own pocket for €10 million to build the flagship wooden roller coaster at his Tayto Park.

Documents just filed for Coyle’s private investment company also show that the firm received nearly €700,000 from the sale of shares in Largo Foods – the company behind the famous Tayto crisp brand.

Filings for the company, which is wholly owned by the 64-year-old and his family, show the Meath-based entrepreneur advanced a €10 million loan to the company behind Tayto Park.

The family-friendly park, which was built according to Coyle’s vision, was first opened to the public in November 2010.

But it wasn’t until last summer when one of its chief attractions, the Cú Chulainn Coaster, was ready for customers after work started on the ride in 2014. It is the largest wooden inverted roller coaster in Europe.

The park said it was part of a €26 million investment which also included a wider upgrade to facilities at the site.

Roller coaster at Tayto Park The Cú Chulainn Coaster in February 2015
Source: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Roller coaster

A Tayto Park spokeswoman told Fora that the €10 million loan from Coyle went towards “building the roller coaster”, which she said cost a total of €12 million. She added that “at present there are no plans to lend further money to the park”.

The park is one of the country’s biggest tourist sites and attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. It made a profit of about €1.6 million during 2014.

The accounts for Coyle’s investment company, covering the 12-month period to the end of June 2015, show that overall it made a profit of just over €645,000 after several small charges were applied.

Tayto Park Ray Coyle during construction of the roller coaster at Tayto Park
Source: Leon Farrell/RollingNews.ie

The vast majority of the profit was attributable to the nearly €700,000 that the firm received from the sale of shares in Largo Foods.

Last year Coyle sold his final shareholding in the company that he established 33 years ago to Germany’s Intersnack.

The buyer had the right to acquire the shares under an agreement that gave it a majority stake in Largo, which employs 550 people at its base in Meath, nine years ago.

Largo Foods

Largo Foods, which also owns several other snack brands such as Hunky Dorys, acquired the Tayto and King brands from Irish food and drinks company C&C Group for €62 million.

. A giant Cu Chulainn birthda A birthday cake to celebrate the anniversary of the roller coaster
Source: Leon Farrell/RollingNews.ie

The accounts for Coyle’s investment firm, Irish Bison, show that in 2014 it acquired slightly less than a third of the shares in Largo Foods for just under €20 million. The same investment was then sold next year for the reduced price of €14.5 million.

A Tayto Park spokeswoman said that both transactions were part of a larger series of deals.

Coyle has also made several smaller investments, including a €500,000 punt on a healthy snack company called Natasha’s Living Foods.