It is easy to dismiss the idea of billionaires’ philanthropy where the plutocrats rather than governments get to decide how funds are used. Despite that almost begrudging view, the benefits of such generosity cannot be denied.
The Crawford Gallery, the Carnegie Libraries, the Glucksman Gallery, Barringtons’ Hospital and today’s health campaigns driven by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation all stand as testimony to how rich, generous people can help improve societies.
Of those, only Gates can be compared to Chuck Feeney’s Atlantic Philanthropies, the mechanism he used to disperse his vast wealth, $1bn of which supports Irish causes.
Feeney was truly exceptionally generous.
A philanthropist’s legacy in Cork is being renovated almost a century after it was opened. Daly’s Bridge 1927 over the Lee — the Shakey Bridge — stands as an example of a how an individual can enrich a community for far longer than they ever imagined possible.
So, who will be the next James Daly, the man whose generosity made that bridge possible? There are after all opportunities aplenty.