The sale of Irish Life by the Government helped push the value of mergers and acquisitions in Ireland over the past quarter to its highest level since 2010.

The sale of Irish Life for €1.3 billion to Canadian firm Greatwest Lifeco accounted for almost a quarter of the €5.57 billion in deals completed here between January and March.

Figures compiled by Investec Corporate Finance show that deal, combined with the $3.25 billion sale of its stake in the multiple sclerosis drug Tysabri by Elan, pushed the value of M&A activity in Ireland to levels not seen since the third quarter of 2010.

Outside those two large deals much of the corporate buying and selling involved Irish companies such as CRH and Kerry group expanding their global empires.

CRH alone accounted for 15 transactions over the first quarter valued at a combined €385m.