Sunday 25 September 2016

'Inspiring' woman who raised €300m is honoured

Kirsty Blake Knox and Mark O'Regan

Published 24/09/2015 | 06:00

Dr Rhona Mahony, Master of the National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street, broadcaster Claire Byrne and Loretta Brennan Glucksman, US philanthropist, before the inaugural Tiffany Ireland Funds lunch
Dr Rhona Mahony, Master of the National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street, broadcaster Claire Byrne and Loretta Brennan Glucksman, US philanthropist, before the inaugural Tiffany Ireland Funds lunch

Loretta Brennan Glucksman didn't visit her 'spiritual home' until she was in her 40s, but when she did, she fell hard.

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"It's as hokey as it sounds," she told the Irish Independent. "My Hungarian Jewish husband brought me to Ireland in 1987. It was instant, like a Walt Disney thing. I felt the roots."

The grand-daughter of a Brennan from Donegal and a McHugh from Leitrim, Loretta grew up in the Irish neighbourhood of Allentown in Pennsylvania.

Since that fateful trip in the 1980s, Loretta and her late husband Lewis Glucksman have personally donated €30m to various organisations.

Loretta also secured more than €300m for the American Funds for Ireland during her 17-year tenure as its chairperson.

Small wonder, then, that she was honoured with the Inspiring Women Award at the inaugural Tiffany Ireland Funds Lunch in Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud yesterday.

"They thought it would be a better to kick it off with someone recognisable and I have been hanging around for a long time," she said.

The luncheon celebrated the achievements of leading women in business and philanthropy.

Broadcaster Claire Byrne, the MC, said: "It's an incredible occasion and I am fizzing with excitement."

The RTÉ presenter also discussed juggling a pressurised career with the demands of motherhood.

"I do wonder what I was doing during all those years, when I didn't have children," she said. "I would complain about being busy, but now I actually am really busy - with capital letters."

Designer Louise Kennedy, Sabina Higgins and Lucinda Creighton all attended. Dr Rhona Mahony was one of the last to arrive - but with good reason.

"I delivered a baby boy 40 minutes ago," the Master of the National Maternity Ward said.

Irish Independent

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