FORMER pilot and businessman Cathal Ryan never lived to see his vision bear fruit.
The son of Ryanair founder Tony Ryan, he lived and worked in Sri Lanka in the late 1970s and directed in his will that a substantial portion of his fortune be donated towards the lives and education of children in that country.
Cathal died from cancer in 2007 aged just 48.
His legacy resulted in an €11m donation to the UN children's agency, UNICEF – the biggest single private donation ever made to the agency.
And the staggering gesture was remembered yesterday as his family collected a special award in recognition of the work carried out by the trust set up in his name.
"I think dad would have been proud about how far this has gone and how the money was spent," said his daughter Danielle.
She was speaking as she accepted the UNICEF Ireland's children's award from former president Mary Robinson at the agency's corporate lunch in Dublin.
More than 300 guests gathered at the Four Seasons Hotel in Ballsbridge for the glittering event when companies who help support the work of UNICEF Ireland gather each year to help raise even more funds for the agency.
Guests included UNICEF ambassadors, actor Stephen Rea, author Cathy Kelly and top Galway hurler Joe Canning.