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‘We thank them on behalf of the nation’ – Trinity College receives largest philanthropic donation in history of the State

Donation of €30m will help fund €1bn docklands campus expansion


Eric and Barbara Kinsella

Eric and Barbara Kinsella

Eric and Barbara Kinsella

Trinity College Dublin has received the largest individual philanthropic college donation in the history of the state.

The gift of €30m comes from Jones Engineering Group chairman Eric Kinsella and his wife Barbara.

The cash is to help fund a research centre in TCD’s proposed new €1bn, 5.5-acre campus extension in Dublin’s southern docklands.

The 76-year-old Switzerland-based businessman is Ireland’s 128th richest person with an estimated fortune of €136m.

It brings to over €110m the amount raised by TCD from rich Irish benefactors and philanthropic foundations in the last five years, more than all other Irish third level institutions combined.

"Barbara and I are delighted to support a project of such national significance,” said Mr Kinsella. “The new Trinity East campus will be a highly efficient investment in the social and economic future of our country. It will increase the prestige of our education and science sector internationally.”

Three years ago, Glen Dimplex’s billionaire founder, Martin Naughton donated €25m toward the same campus project. In 2015, TCD received a €67m cash gift from Chuck Feeney’s Atlantic Philanthropies.

In an exclusive interview today with the Irish Independent, TCD provost Patrick Prendergast says that the university will still need state money to complete the project. The college has asked for €150m toward the cost of completion.

“Trinity East is a hugely ambitious and exciting project not just for us, but for Dublin,” said Mr Prendergast. “It’s an historic opportunity for a university which has existed on its main campus since 1592.”

Mr Kinsella retains a large shareholding in Jones Engineering, which employs over 1,500 people with turnover of over €400m.

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He also maintains a significant property portfolio worth an estimated €200m through Esprit Investment.

He and his wife Barbara have a longstanding philanthropic relationship with TCD through engineering scholarships, research grants and a section of one of TCD’s libraries that is named after his parents.

“Barbara and I have also offered to sponsor an international architectural competition for Trinity East campus design," he said.

Minister for Higher Education, Simon Harris, called the Kinsellas latest funding move “patriotic”.

“I thank them on behalf of the nation,” he said.

The research facility being funded, to be called the E3 Research Institute, is still “years” from being built, according to Mr Prendergast.

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