Budget Travel founder Gillian Bowler has passed away.

It is understood that the former chairman of Irish Life and Permanent had been ill for some time.

Ms Bowler founded package holiday company Budget Travel in 1975 along with her husband, Harry Sydner. 

In 1987, 90% of Budget Travel was sold to UK group Granada and the remaining 10% was sold in 1996.

Ms Bowler was appointed to the Irish Life board in 1998. When it merged with Irish Permanent the following year to form Irish Life and Permanent, she kept her seat on the board of the new company.

She stepped down from the position at the end of 2010.

Ms Bowler was also the founding chairperson of Fáilte Ireland from 2003-2008.

Fáilte Ireland CEO Shaun Quinn said Ms Bowler "was a very dynamic, effective and truly inspirational chair who successfully guided our organisation during its early formative years with her unique blend of insight and enthusiasm.

"On behalf of Fáilte Ireland, I would like to extend our condolences to her husband Harry and her extended family."