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Billionaire philanthropist Chuck Feeney conferred with honorary degrees

US billionaire and philanthropist Charles F 'Chuck' Feeney was today conferred with an honorary degree by Irish universities from both sides of the border.

Hailed as an "historic" event, it is the first time that universities from north and south of the island have jointly conferred their highest award to an individual.

Since 1989, Mr. Feeney's organisation, Atlantic Philantrophies has donated almost E800 million to Irish universities, funding a wide range of facilities, from college buildings, to medical research projects in science, engineering, medicine, technology, business and law.

The 81-year old New Jersey-born Irish-American is one of the world's biggest philanthropists - since it's foundation in 1982, Atlantic Philanthropies has given out grants totalling almost €5bn.

Attending the conferral in St. Patrick's Hall in Dublin Castle were An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Education Minister Ruairi Quinn, US Ambassador Dan Rooney, and the Chancellors of every Irish university, including former Irish President and Chancellor of the University of Dublin, Mary Robinson.

Introducing Mr Feeney, Dr Patrick Fortrell, Chair of the Science Foundation said, "This is our way of saying thank you for your enormous generosity to the people of Ireland".