Rise to the Top: The University of Limerick & The Atlantic Philanthropies

Rise to the Top: The University of Limerick & The Atlantic Philanthropies


Don Barry: Chuck Feeney has single-handedly transformed this university and indeed the entire Mid-West region. He has invested hugely in the future; the future of this university and the future of our country. And I salute
him. Narrator: Since 1987, Chuck Feeney and The Atlantic Philanthropies have been deeply involved in the University of Limerick’s journey. Their
investments have led to iconic projects, such as The Living Bridge, the Glucksman Library and the Graduate Entry Medical School, to name just a few. Through Chuck’s phenomenal vision, the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance was established in 2010. This world-renowned academy is a global center of academic and performance excellence and has enhanced UL’s
role as a major center of artistic and cultural creativity. Narrator: It’s a far cry from the early 1980s
when Ireland was in the grip of a desperate recession. One of the cities most in need
was Limerick. Ed Walsh, head of what was then known as the National Institute for Higher Education had a chance encounter with Chuck Feeney, which would change the future of Limerick forever. Ed Walsh: This was the man who surreptitiously had given the Irish-American partnership its first gift. And I said to him, ‘Well, you
must come down to Limerick sometime.’ And, again, surprisingly, within weeks, he was
in Limerick. John O’Connor: I arrived in 1972 at this university, on the year of its foundation, and the most significant event in my life and here, was
in 1988 when Chuck arrived on this campus. Narration: Over the next ten years, there
would be many ambitious projects. The campus grew from three buildings in 1988 to 45 today. Student numbers have risen from 3,000 to over 13,000 and it’s continuing to grow. One of the jewels in the crown of UL is the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance. At the very heart of the Academy, and visible from almost everywhere, is a masterpiece of Irish mosaic
art by the Irish artist Desmond Kinney. The mosaic tells the story of the goddess Sionann, from whom the River Shannon gets its name. Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin: Well, firstly,
the mosaic is using a myth, which is central to the ideology and the ethos and the philosophy of the Academy itself, which is the seeking of wisdom, the seeking of knowledge, which every university is in the business of doing. Narrator: The Academy now has 300 students from up to 40 different countries, studying a range of subjects with world-class tutors
of traditional and classical music and dance. Don Barry: One of the great things that Chuck Feeney brings to this university is the ability to be confident about the future, to set
greater goals than we would imagine for ourselves and to drive us on to achieving those goals.

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