Chuck Feeney: the ‘James Bond of philanthropy’ who gave away $8 billion

How the generosity of an Irish-American billionaire transformed Ireland

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Philanthropist Chuck Feeney who lived his theory of Giving while Living. Photograph: Alan Betson

Chuck Feeney, the Irish-American philanthropist, died last October at the age of 92. During his lifetime he quietly gave away almost all of his $8 billion fortune. Through his foundation Atlantic Philanthropies he funded massive life-changing education, health and science projects in Ireland, the US and around the world; as a proud Irish-American he helped fund the peace process leading to the Belfast Agreement.

He wanted anonymity; he never wanted to be thanked or acknowledged or for his name to be on any of the buildings or institutions his money built.

Journalist Conor O’Clery got to know Feeney when he was based in New York for The Irish Times and he went on to write his biography, The Billionaire who Wasn’t: How Chuck Feeney Made and Gave Away A Fortune Without Anyone Knowing. It was the beginning of long friendship. He tells In the News about this most inspirational, generous and visionary philanthropist whose legacy will live on.

This episode was originally published in October 2023. Presented by Bernice Harrison. Produced by Suzanne Brennan.

Bernice Harrison

Bernice Harrison

Bernice Harrison is an Irish Times journalist and cohost of In the News podcast