Kiltimagh, Co Mayo native Thomas Flatley built a property empire in the US after emigrating there in 1950 with just over $30 to his name. The company at one stage employed 5,800 people and owned property in 56 cities across seven states. He also owned a New Hampshire TV station at one point. He sold off a tranche of apartments for about $500m, and another chunk worth a similar amount in 2007. Later that year he also gave the Catholic Church in the city, by way of the Archdiocese of Boston, a number of valuable properties.
The staunchly Catholic businessman died in 2008, and his family are giving away a remaining chunk of the fortune he built to good causes. Son John, who has his own property portfolio of offices, apartments and shopping centres, is a keen supporter of efforts to find a cure for cystic fibrosis. Locals in Boston recall how throughout his life he gave generously both to a wide range of local causes, as well as others in Ireland and Africa. He also funded the Boston Irish Famine Memorial.
A remaining chunk of properties from his extensive portfolio is managed by extended family members, and includes two waterfront development sites, an office park, and a landmark former sweet factory building.