A former aide to US president John F Kennedy with strong links to West Cork has wound up his 30-year philanthropic fund with a record €100,000 donation to a domestic violence support group.
Charles U Daly, who worked for Kennedy in the White House in the 1960s, made the announcement in Bantry last night as he closed the Mary Daly Fund.
Mr Daly, 90, who owns a home in the harbour town, established the fund in his first wife Mary’s memory in 1987 following her death.
A fund within the American Ireland Funds, of which Mr Daly is a senior director, its trustees have distributed hundreds of thousands of dollars across the region.
Mr Daly said he was pleased the fund “had done some good” and added he was delighted with the trustees’ decision to select the West Cork Women Against Violence (WCWAV) project as its final beneficiary.
The €100,000 grant is the single largest donation the fund has made, and it is the single largest donation the WCWAV has ever received.
The women’s group said it plans to provide additional supports and hire extra staff to reach hundreds more women and children in crisis situations.
“In the past, my late wife, and Christine, my wife of more than 25 years, felt that domestic violence is a plague not only in other parts of the world but in West Cork too,” Mr Daly said.
“This group came to our attention and was something worth supporting. Maybe I’m too stupid to believe that domestic violence will be solved by a few dollars but this grant will make people in these situations aware that they are not alone, that there are supports, and that they need not be ashamed.”
WCWAV said they were honoured to be chosen as the final beneficiary of the fund.
“This generous donation is all the more special because it is given in the name of Mary Daly who, from everything we have learned, was a woman who shared our values of defending women’s rights and protecting children,” project chairperson Kathleen Harnedy said.
“For some time, we have wanted to explore ways of providing a range of wrap-around services to women and children by improving their access to a full range of supports.
“This grant will allow us to do that. But, just as importantly, it gives us as an organisation a much-needed breathing space in which we do not have to worry about how we can offer the level of support that women who contact us need.”
Mr Daly said he has been lucky in life. Born in Dublin in 1927, he served in the US Navy during World War II and as a platoon leader in the Marine Corps during the Korean War, earning both a Silver Star and Purple Heart.
He retired as a first lieutenant in 1952, having been severely wounded in combat.
He graduated with honors from Yale University in 1949 with a degree in international relations and from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 1959, where he worked full-time as a reporter for the Reporter-Dispatch in White Plains, New York.
He was awarded an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship in 1959-1960, serving in the offices of Senator John F Kennedy and Representative Stewart Udall.
And in 1961, he was recruited to serve as staff assistant to President Kennedy for Congressional Liaison, a position he continued to hold under President Lyndon Johnson until 1964.
He is a former director of the John F Kennedy Presidential Library and played a leading role in making the national memorial, in Boston, to President Kennedy one of the country’s leading centres for public discourse and the exchange of ideas.
He resigned from the position in February 1994 to become executive director of the not-for-profit John F Kennedy Foundation.
Under his stewardship, the Foundation’s endowment grew from $8m to $20m.
He retired as executive director in January 2001 but still serves as an Emeritus Director, working on global issues such as the Aids crisis in Africa, as well as peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland.
Mr Daly, who holds dual citizenship, was named Irishman of the Year in 2006 by the Friends of the Library — the first Irish citizen to receive the award.
He and his family spend as much time as they can at their home in Bantry.
“The first rule in philanthropy is don’t do harm. We hope we did some slight good to those who benefitted,” he said. “Maybe it was an ego trip, but being involved in the fund has given me, my family and our donors great satisfaction.
“I was shot during war in 1951 and should have been finished off.
“But I’ve had a series of good fortunes since, not only in marriage but in my professional career, including serving in the White House.
“I feel good about life. I would like to stay alive as long as I can, but the system is the system. If you look at coffins, none have big pockets for money.
“I would encourage those who can afford to, to think about what you need, what needs you and your family have, and then consider what you can do to make your environment a little better than when you arrived.
“It can form part of a very happy life.”
He also said that while all US presidents have their flaws, he described US president Donal Trump as a “dismal excuse for a human being”.
“I cannot find any redeeming virtue in this man. I couldn’t work with him — not under any imaginable circumstances would I serve him directly,” he said.
Mr Daly was married to the late Mary de Burgh Daly. He has been married to Christine Sullivan Daly for over 25 years and is the father of four sons, Michael, Douglas, Charles, and Kevin.
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