Emma McManus (40), a mother to three children and wife to the son of horse racing magnate JP McManus, has died suddenly in Barbados.
Ms McManus died yesterday morning after falling ill at a private villa on the grounds of the luxury Sandy Lane resort.
She was married to JP McManus’s son, John McManus, and was the daughter of former Irish tennis star and retired businessman Peter Ledbetter.
Members of the McManus and Ledbetter families had flown to the eastern Caribbean island to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s Eve together, in what has been a longstanding family tradition.
Informed sources said Ms McManus, originally from Blackrock, Co Dublin, awoke in her room in the early hours of yesterday and complained of “feeling unwell”.
Sources said Ms McManus was brought to a local medical centre where she was pronounced dead a short time later.
A Royal Barbados Police spokesman said they had ruled out foul play and were treating it as a sudden death.
A post-mortem is to be carried out on Ms McManus’s body to help find a cause of death, which will ultimately determine the police investigation.
A police spokesman said that it was expected that “after the post-mortem, the investigation will be finished”.
He explained that local autopsies can take “up to a week”, however this would be “up to the pathologist and the coroner”.
Sources described Emma and John as “a very private couple” who have three children under the age of nine, and reside at a luxury property in Chelsea, London.
As far as is known Emma had no serious health issues
“It’s terrible, as far as is known Emma had no serious health issues. No one knows what exactly caused her death, there was no warning. Everyone is obviously devastated, it’s massively shocking,” they said.
“Emma was a vibrant, outgoing person and she was very well liked by everyone; despite their obvious wealth they are two of the most down to earth people you could meet.
“We’re especially heartbroken for John and the children, what’s happened is every family’s worst nightmare. John is a really compassionate guy, our hearts go out to him.”
Ms McManus is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin, while her husband John, a former student at private school Glenstal Abbey in Co Limerick, has built a successful career trading in antiques, sculpture and art. The couple wed in Portugal in October, 2010.
JP McManus, a billionaire horse owner, businessman and philanthropist, reportedly pulled all nine of his horses who were due to race today.
Ms McManus’s father Peter Ledbetter, represented Ireland at tennis and helped build up the late Tony Ryan’s commercial aircraft sales and leasing company Guinness Peat Aviation in the 1970s.
It is understood Emma, John and their three children were in Limerick to watch the Shannonside hurling team — of which JP McManus has been a long-term sponsor — win their second All Ireland hurling championship in three years on December 13th.
They then flew out to Barbados with family.
The Sandy Lane resort was purchased in the late 1990s by JP McManus, financier Dermot Desmond, and horse breeder John Magnier.
Informed sources said the two families were seeking advice on how best to proceed with funeral arrangements, in light of public health guidelines around the coronavirus pandemic and international travel.