TILDA fondly remembers Chuck Feeney, founder of Atlantic Philanthropies and TILDA funder (1931-2023)
Chuck Feeney was a unique man. He was warm, generous with a gentle, playful sense of humour. Proud of his Irish roots, he recognised that health care, services and research in ageing were lacking in Ireland and the sector was struggling for recognition and investment.
He was persuaded, by Profs Davis Coakley (deceased) and Bernard Walsh, to invest in physical and manpower infrastructure at St James- the first steps towards an Academic Health Sciences Centre. His vision was for a state of the art clinical-research facility that would take a national lead in health innovation. On visits to St James, he was convinced by the then poor quality of hospital accommodation for older patients.
Through Atlantic Philanthropies, the corporate entity which managed his philanthropy, he supported a new institute (Mercers Institute for Successful Ageing, MISA), a chair and senior lecturer post in medical gerontology (Profs Rose Anne Kenny & Joe Harbison), and additional research and clinical personnel.
At the time, there was little reliable data available to inform policy on ageing in Ireland or to enable high-quality research. Atlantic Philantropies were approached by Prof Kenny in 2006 to support TILDA- Irelands largest adult research study, now in its 17th year and continuing to grow with support from government and other research funding bodies. The investments changed the ageing experience in Ireland.
Chuck’s dear wife, Helga, was always working by his side. We will endeavour to continue his inspirational vision and remember his humility- it was always about others and never about himself.