A 200,000 euro donation to Letterkenny General Hospital by the New Zealand based Donegal born cattle dealer and property developer, Hugh Green, was confirmed this week.
The money is to go towards a special training academy at the hospital and will, it is understood, link with a similar venture in Galway.
“I was glad to give it. It’s for a very worthy cause,” said the Raphoe native who spent his teenage years in Letterkenny.
Speaking from his home in Auckland, the wealthy emigrant who has never forgotten his roots also described his surprise at the recent announcement that he is being awarded a prestigious Papal Knighthood in recognition of his “outstanding contribution” to New Zealand society and his generous support to so many charitable causes over many years.
“It was totally out of the blue. I got word by letter from the Bishop of Auckland, Patrick Dunn, that I was to receive it. I’m very honoured - it’s certainly something I’ll treasure.”
In his correspondence to the Donegalman, the Bishop said he was particularly aware of Mr. Green’s support for Catholic projects including the renovation works on the cathedral in Auckland. “I am also very aware that much of your support for charitable projects has been ‘under the radar’ because of your preference simply to quietly support worthwhile projects in a low-key manner without drawing undue attention to yourself.”
Bishop Dunn said he was personally delighted that his “great generosity” to so many had been recognised in this way. “The award will be a source of great pleasure for many who admire you greatly and also for the large number of people whom you have helped in countless ways over many years.”
Apart from his signification donations to a large list of organisations - he set up a Charitable Trust in 1998 - in his adopted city and country, Mr. Green continues to generously support ventures in his native Donegal though he was modestly reluctant to dwell on those this week. His significant contribution to Letterkenny General Hospital represents another stepping stone in this respect.
He received an Honorary Degree at Galway University five years ago - the Papal Knighthood the latest in a line of awards recognising his unstinting support.
“I think they’re going to have a special mass for the presentation either in the Bishop’s house or in the Cathedral here in Auckland,” said the affable businessman.
Hugh will celebrate his 80th birthday on October 24th, a fortnight after his good friend, Harry McCafferty, does likewise. A native of the Port Road area in Letterkenny, Harry left the county at the same time as his close pal and the pair met up in Australia following Hugh’s initial stint working in Scotland and England before he emigrated further to the Southern Hemisphere.