President of Ireland gives first in Ray Murphy Lecture Series

On 25 January, at the University of Cork, Mary McAleese, President of Ireland, gave the first in a series of ten lectures in honour of Ray Murphy, who died in March 2007. The two organizations for which he worked in the latter part of his career, Atlantic Philanthropies and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, have supported the creation of the Lecture Series as ‘a fitting memorial to one of the pioneers of Irish philanthropy’.

Organized by Philanthropy Ireland, the Lecture was attended by about 120 people, many from Ireland itself – philanthropists, social investors, businesspeople and activists – and a third or so from foundations, associations and organizations that promote philanthropy in Europe and the US.

The lecture was preceded by an address by Bill White of the Mott Foundation and a response from Colin McCrea of Atlantic Philanthropies. All three spoke movingly about Ray’s passions and values and about the role of philanthropy in Ireland. ‘According to many experts, Ireland today is positioned to participate in a new era of organized philanthropy that builds on its long tradition of charity,’ said Bill White. ‘Ray, a man once described as “a supporter of dreams”, had his own dream of seeing Irish philanthropy flourish.’ Colin McCrea went on to address the need for more Irish people to give strategically: this formerly poor country, now prosperous, has a long tradition of generosity not yet translated into sufficient action by the newly wealthy.

Mary McAleese was inspirational. She talked about Ray Murphy and how he helped others bring ‘the best of our problem-solving intelligence to make change’ and about the recent changes in Ireland – not just from poverty to prosperity but from conflict to peace – acknowledging the role of foundations and philanthropists in both these journeys.

Gaynor Humphreys is Director of London Funders. Email

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