Sunday 15 September 2019

Charities to share €30m windfall left by heiress

Generosity: Elizabeth O’Kelly left €6m each to five charities
Generosity: Elizabeth O’Kelly left €6m each to five charities

Gordon Deegan

A deceased millionaire heiress has bequeathed her €30m estate to five charities in a generous act of philanthropy.

The donations were left in the will of Elizabeth O'Kelly from Stradbally, Co Laois, who referenced monies she had inherited from family.

Ms O'Kelly died aged 93 in December 2016.

She was a shareholder in Clylim Properties, which has extensive property interests in Dublin, and it was reported she made around €30m from the sale of the 'Leinster Leader' Ltd in 2005.

The five charities are the Irish Cancer Society; Irish Heart Foundation; Irish Kidney Association; the Irish Society for Autistic Children; and the Royal National Lifeboat Institute Ireland in Airside, Swords, Dublin. Each charity will receive €6m.

The amount represents the largest single donation received by the Irish Cancer Society (ICS), and is the equivalent of income from two Daffodil Days, its major fundraiser.

The ICS identified the generous donor as Ms O'Kelly, adding that her "kindness and generosity is reflected in her decision to leave equal amounts in her will to five charities".

In its annual financial statement, the ICS said it was "investigating a number of high impact and transformational projects in which the bequeathed funds will be invested".

A statement from the ICS said: "We are deeply grateful to Elizabeth O'Kelly for generously remembering people with cancer in her will.

"Her generosity will provide hope to so many people affected by cancer and deliver improvements in cancer care that would have been impossible otherwise.

"Ms O'Kelly was known for displaying great kindness towards her friends and being charitable in supporting those in need.

"Ms O'Kelly successfully battled cancer in the 1980s. She knew first-hand the challenges cancer patients face and the positive difference the Irish Cancer Society makes to them in their time of need."

Investment

An ICS spokeswoman said: "In the 1980s, when Ms O'Kelly was diagnosed with cancer, only three out of 10 Irish cancer patients survived. Today, six out of 10 do.

"This is thanks in no small part to the generosity of the Irish public in supporting the Irish Cancer Society's lifesaving research, advocacy and patient support services.

"The Irish Cancer Society won't give up until Ireland's cancer services are truly world-class and every patient has the best possible chance of surviving and thriving after a cancer diagnosis. We won't settle for anything less and we know Ms O'Kelly would not want us to.

"Ms O'Kelly's gift will be the seed for this investment. It will therefore enable us to deliver the kind of transformational change that would have been impossible otherwise."

"On behalf of people affected by cancer all across Ireland, our supporters and volunteers, we are deeply grateful to her."

Irish Independent

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