New Zealand charity continues to support good causes

A Letterkenny youth group and a cathedral restoration project are among the latest causes to receive large donations from New Zealand.
Details of the financial gifts awarded by the Hugo Charitable Trust, a charity set up by Raphoe farmer Hugh Green, are contained in the organisation’s latest annual report.
Good causes ranging from individual efforts to large scale projects have been benefiting from ‘Hugo Ireland Donations’ for years. In 2020 and 2021 the organisation chose the St Eunan’s Cathedral Restoration Fund and Letterkenny Youth and Community Club as two of its beneficiaries.
In September Dean Arthur Barrett was presented with a cheque for €10,000 for the renovation of the 12th century St Eunan’s Cathedral while this year €20,000 was presented to the Letterkenny youth club as part of its plans to redevelop the old Devlin Hall building.
Two organisations in the Tyrone village of Augher – St McCartan’s chapel and St Patrick’s Primary School Aughadarragh – split evenly a donation of €60,000.
The contributions are a rolling wave of goodwill from a charity set up by a man who left East Donegal virtually penniless in the late 1940s.
After altering his age so he could purchase a £10 ticket to Australia Hugh Green found working cutting sugar in Queensland.
But it was while digging drains in Melbourne with his Irish colleague Barney McCahil that he started to make serious money – enough to head home to Ireland via New Zealand.
Through hard work and determination the two friends partnered up to form one of New Zealand’s largest privately-owned construction companies.
Shrewd investment saw Hugh amass a fortune running to hundreds of millions of dollars, much of which has flowed back into places like Donegal, Tyrone and Derry.
Hugh’s eldest daughter and the Hugo Charitable Trust founder, Maryanne Green, said, “Hugh once said ‘I love both Ireland and New Zealand equally’ and when he could he enjoyed travelling back to see family and friends in Donegal.”
Over his lifetime Hugh accumulated vast wealth from investing his money wisely with his eldest daughter Maryanne working closely at his side for over 25 years. Maryanne often heard Hugh say ‘When I kick the bucket I want a fair bit to go to charity’.
Among the groups the Hugo Charitable Trust has helped over the past five years has been Children in Crossfire, the charity founded by Richard Moore who was blinded by a British soldier’s rubber bullet in 1972.
Raphoe man Owen McGirr who designed an app for those with disabilities and communication difficulties received €50,000 in 2018 while Letterkenny woman Helen Johnston who lost her daughter Tory in tragic circumstances was gifted €30,000. Along with her daughter Amy, Helen established the Sammy and Tory Fund which has helped, among others, the Donegal Hospice, Letterkenny Oncology and the Dublin Heart Unit.
One of the biggest donations, €100,000, was made to Raphoe where the money was used to fund several projects, including the Suile Centre community hub.
A donation of €15,000 was made to Fintown Library for secure shelving of the Seán Mac Aoidh Book Collection. Seán Bán lived all his life in Fintown and his collection contains thousands of books, including some particularly rare Irish language works.
One cause that has received repeated assistance from New Zealand is Letterkenny’s Little Angels School. It received a donation of €11,000 in 2017 which paid for two interactive floor projectors. A further €50,000 has since been donated through the Hugo Ireland Donations for a van to transport the children and their teachers.
“Hugh was a great supporter of the Little Angels School and donated a playground designed for children with disabilities,” revealed Maryanne Green.
“We were delighted to continue this support through donations totalling €61,000 for two interactive floor projectors and a school van.”
The charities are recommended through friends and family members of Hugh, some of which he himself supported prior to his death in 2012.
Hugo Trust Chief Executive Aoibheann Monaghan added that the charity will continue to do all it can to continue the philanthropic work he started.
“The Hugo Charitable Trust has strong ties to Ireland especially as Hugh’s hometown was Raphoe and we look forward to continuing the special relationships we have with the charities that he supported and the causes brought to us by his family and friends.”

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