IF Ireland was a woman, she would be a bit like Blanche Dubois in A Streetcar Named Desire. As a nation, we too have "always depended on the kindness of strangers".
Not that Chuck Feeney is in any way a stranger. An Irish-American by birth, with a dual citizenship to show for it, he couldn't be more at home here even if his ancestors had never left Co Fermanagh for the shores of America.
He was, though, always an elusive and discreet presence in Ireland's affairs; a man whose gargantuan generosity was as remarkable for being so long anonymous as it was for the size of the donations that the Atlantic Philanthropies foundation -- which he set up in 1982 -- spent the next three decades distributing to good causes.
Over €5bn in total was handed out by the duty free pioneer, over €1bn of which came our way. There is not a corner of the island which hasn't received some of Chuck Feeney's money over the years.
It was put to good use too. Professor Ed Walsh used some of it to transform what we now know of as the University of Limerick from an educational backwater into the first-class institution which it now is. Millions were invested in libraries, research labs and scholarships for deserving students.
After the IRA's bombing of a Remembrance Day ceremony in Enniskillen, Feeney also got more closely involved with the peace process, lobbying the White House with other prominent Irish Americans not to give up on Northern Ireland.
Bill Clinton's continuing engagement with this part of the world remains a testament to that.
Feeney backed it up with money all the while, bankrolling reconciliation projects, cross-community ventures and integrated education. It all helped break down some of the borders of mutual mistrust which had grown over time and which, in their own way, were far more damaging than any physical border.
But Feeney was not always treated with due respect by Ireland in return. When he gave €4m to help set up the controversial Centre for Public Inquiry to examine "matters of importance in Irish political, public and corporate life", he couldn't have imagined that he would find himself embroiled in the controversy about the alleged activities of its executive director, former journalist Frank Connolly.
Feeney ceased funding for the centre in 2006 and it closed soon after. He also directly paid the large bills for the Sinn Fein office in Washington for three years, in the hope that this would enable them to move away from violence and see the benefits of politics, and even spoke of his regard for Gerry Adams, only to find that Adams's past as an IRA leader would come back to haunt the Sinn Fein leader with the revelations of former comrades.
There are also plenty of people, particularly in the North, who were only too keen to use Feeney's goodwill to extract millions for human rights and so-called 'restorative justice' programmes which were not warmly welcomed by everyone there.
There will certainly be plenty of people lamenting the fact that the gravy train will no longer be making a stop at their station now it's been revealed that Atlantic Philanthropies is to start winding up its activities. The foundation will stop accepting grant applications from 2016 and cease all funding by 2020.
Feeney remains as committed to philanthropy as he ever was, believing, as he does, that there is nothing more important than to "personally devote oneself to meaningful efforts to improve the human condition". He is one of scores of billionaires, alongside Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, to sign the Giving Pledge, which commits them to giving at least half of their wealth to good causes either before or after they die.
But the focus has shifted. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation concentrates its efforts on the developing world. The days when Ireland could kid itself that it was at the head of the queue are long gone. There are far more deserving candidates for aid, and it's entirely right that they should get it.
Chuck Feeney should be thanked for all he's done for Ireland and wished all the best for the future. But it does feel like a turning point.
We have depended on the kindness of strangers for too long and never really developed the sort of self-sufficiency needed to get us through the bad times.
It's a strange business. We lecture the Third World for relying on aid budgets that too often lead to institutional corruption and structural inertia, but have maybe been as guilty of exactly the same thing as we went around spending Chuck Feeney's money as if it was our own, pretending we had somehow earned it, rather than simply being the recipients of a good man's largesse.
That's the real message of the end of Atlantic Philanthropies. What it signifies is that we're on our own now. There's no more point looking for more Chuck Feeneys than there is looking for Santa Claus.
Whatever solutions there are to our problems, we'll have to find them alone. It's a scary prospect. Finally, we're going to find out how much of Feeney's gift for creating wealth, as well as handing it out, has rubbed off on us.