Thursday 26 April 2018

Eilis O'Hanlon: Without Feeney, we'll have to stand on our own feet

The philanthropy that was of such help to Ireland is now to be slowly phased out, writes Eilis O'Hanlon

IF Ireland was a woman, she would be a bit like Blanche Dubois in A Streetcar Named Desire. As a nation, we too have "always depended on the kindness of strangers".

Not that Chuck Feeney is in any way a stranger. An Irish-American by birth, with a dual citizenship to show for it, he couldn't be more at home here even if his ancestors had never left Co Fermanagh for the shores of America.

He was, though, always an elusive and discreet presence in Ireland's affairs; a man whose gargantuan generosity was as remarkable for being so long anonymous as it was for the size of the donations that the Atlantic Philanthropies foundation -- which he set up in 1982 -- spent the next three decades distributing to good causes.

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