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Sir Allen McClay, CBE (1930/1931 – 12 January 2010) was a Northern Irish multi-millionaire businessman and philanthropist who founded Galen (later Warner Chilcott), a pharmaceutical company which was Northern Ireland's first one billion pound business.[1] After resigning from Galen in 2001, he went on to form a second successful pharmaceutical company, the Almac Group.


McClay was born in Cookstown, County Tyrone in 1932 and was the youngest of six children.[2] He attended Cookstown High School and Belfast College of Technology (now Belfast Metropolitan College) later qualifying as a pharmacist in 1953 after apprenticeship.[3][4] In 1955, he joined Glaxo, where he worked for 13 years as a medical rep, before founding his own company, Galen, in Craigavon in 1968. He left Galen, which produces contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy drugs, in 2001, having become unhappy with the company's direction after it's London Stock Exchange flotation in 1997. McClay retired from Galen on 31 September, and the following day rented accommodation close to the site Galen occupied for what would become his second successful company, Almac Sciences.[5] McClay purchased five divisions of Galen Holdings plc. and formed Almac in January 2002.[6] Almac provides services including research & development and manufacturing to other pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer and Glaxosmithkline. The company, whose turnover is £167m, employs more than 1500 people in Craigavon and has expanded into England, Scotland and the United States.[4][7]

In 1973, McClay bought Connors Chemists, a pharmacy in Warrenpoint, which developed into a chain of branches across the UK managed by his brother Howard, and was sold to The Boots Company in 1998.[8][9]


McClay established the McClay Trust in 1997, a charitable organisation which "support[s] research and development activities within Queen’s University".[10][11] The trust has donated £20 million to the university, which has included sponsorship of Ph.D studentships at the university's Cancer Research centre. The trust also funded the £3.5m McClay Research Centre at the School of Pharmacy which opened in 2002.[12][10] Sir George Bain, a former vice chancellor at Queen's, has described McClay as "the most significant philanthropist Northern Ireland has ever known".[7]

McClay was reported by the 2009 Sunday Times Rich List to be Northern Ireland's sixth richest person, with wealth estimated at £190 million.[13] In 2009, he used his wealth to establish the McClay Foundation, a charitable trust focused on cancer research.[14]

McClay received an OBE in 1994, followed by a CBE in 2000 for contributions to the pharmaceutical industry in Northern Ireland.[15][3] In the New Year Honours List of 2006 he was made Knight Bachelor for services to business and charity.[16]

McClay married his partner Heather Topping in 2009 in the United States.[14] He died on 12 January at Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He had been receiving treatment for cancer.[4]


  1. ^ "Below the Radar- Sir Allen McClay". Thinking Big.
  2. ^ Casey, Carissa (Apr-May 2007). "The Medicine Man". Cara Magazine. Aer Lingus. Retrieved 14 January 2010.  
  3. ^ a b "The World's Biggest Chemistry Set: Interview with Dr Allen McClay". Almac Sciences. July 2004. Retrieved 14 January 2010.  
  4. ^ a b c Ross, Symon (2010-01-13). "Northern Ireland magnate Sir Allen McClay dies in US". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 14 January 2010.  
  5. ^ Williams, Eoghan (2007-10-28). "When the chemistry is just right". Irish Independent. Retrieved 14 January 2010.  
  6. ^ Lillington, Karlin (2008-07-01). "Profile: Sir Allen McClay". The Scientist. Retrieved 14 January 2010.  
  7. ^ a b "Head of drugs giant Almac, Sir Allen McClay, dies". BBC. 2010-01-13. Retrieved 14 January 2010.  
  8. ^ "'Aladdin's cave of opportunities awaits the Province and people'". The News Letter. 2009-09-14. Retrieved 14 January 2010.  
  9. ^ "Observer: Howard's Way". The Financial Times. 1998-04-08.  
  10. ^ a b "McClay Trust Four Year Ph.D Studentships in Cancer Research". Queen's University, Belfast. Retrieved 14 January 2010.  
  11. ^ "Pharmaceutical Research Centre opens". Chemist & Druggist. 2002-01-19.  
  12. ^ "New £3.5m research centre for Belfast". The Pharmaceutical Journal 265 (7104): 38. 2000-07-08. Retrieved 2010-01-14.  
  13. ^ "Quinn 'loses billion in a year'". BBC. 2009-04-26. Retrieved 14 January 2010.  
  14. ^ a b Manley, John (2010-01-14). "Millionaire philanthropist was totally down-to-earth". Irish News: pp. 43.  
  15. ^ "Life peerages for Professors and drinks chief; Queen's Birthday Honours". The Guardian: pp. 10. 1994-06-11.  
  16. ^ "Buckingham beckons for local recipients of New Year's Honours". Tyrone Times. 2006-01-06. Retrieved 14 January 2010.  


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