Tuesday 13 November 2018

'Please, do not name anything after Elizabeth - she would have hated that'

Elizabeth O’Kelly’s grave at Moyglare near Maynooth. PHOTO: STEVE HUMPHREYS
Elizabeth O’Kelly’s grave at Moyglare near Maynooth. PHOTO: STEVE HUMPHREYS

Rachel Farrell

The executor of Elizabeth O'Kelly's estate advised a charity not to name anything after her, as she would have "hated it".

The five charities she left €30m to are the Irish Cancer Society (ICS), the Irish Heart Foundation (IHF), the Irish Kidney Association (IKA), the Irish Society for Autism (ISA) and the Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI)

Mark Murphy of the IKA said the €6m has already had a "huge impact". "This is 25 times more than we've ever got [in donations]," he told the Irish Independent.

"We're dying to thank her, and it was an idea to name something after her, but the executor said she would have hated it. When we suggested it, he said 'absolutely not, that's not the type of woman she was'. We would like a way to thank her in a way that the executor would accept, as they knew her for 40-odd years." He said Ms O'Kelly did not have any direct connection with the charity. However, she was a good friend of Martin Doody, who was chairman of the association in 2012 before his death from kidney disease at the age of 56.

The ICS has set up a special working group to examine what is the best way to spend the money as part of its new strategic plan.

"Ms O'Kelly's very generous legacy gives us a unique opportunity to improve cancer care in Ireland through investment in high impact projects we simply couldn't fund otherwise. We are incredibly grateful to Ms O'Kelly for making this possible," a spokesperson said.

The IHF said it has "ringfenced" the €6m it received from Ms O'Kelly and it will be spent on a new plan to tackle childhood obesity.

The RNLI said Ms O'Kelly was a "long-standing" supporter .

"As this is such a large legacy, the RNLI will be carefully considering all options to ensure the funds are used where they are needed most and with a view to how they can be spent to fittingly reflect Ms O'Kelly's support for the charity," said a spokesperson.

The ISA said it is working on its five-year strategic plan, and considering what is the most effective way to spend the €6m.

"A current project ISA are working on with the FAI is Autism Awareness Training for Coaches. The society will endeavour to run other such programmes with similar sporting organisations amongst other projects," a spokesperson confirmed.

Irish Independent

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