Donegal philanthropist’s charity funding vital research

THE daughter of a Donegal philanthropist says her father would have loved the fact his charity is funding potentially life saving medical research.

Maryanne Green, daughter of the late Hugh Green, is the driving force behind the Hugo Charitable Trust which has donated over €10 million to charitable causes across New Zealand.

Since 2017 Hugo has donated $750,000 to the Liggins Institute, University of Auckland, which is carrying out new world-leading research aimed at helping newborn babies breathe.


Born into a practically penniless family in Raphoe, Hugh Green left Ireland at the age of 17 and moved first to the UK and then Australia.

On his travels he met fellow Donegal man Barney McCahill and they journeyed to New Zealand in 1952.

Together they found work digging trenches before setting up their own company, Green and McCahill Contractors Ltd. which grew to become one of the best known civil infrastructure projects in the country.

By the time they parted ways in 2002, they had 50 companies between them. This became known as the Hugh Green Group.

The Raphoe man amassed a personal fortune of $350 million in his lifetime and driven by the poverty of his childhood he set up the Hugh Green Charitable Trust in 1998.

He passed away in 2012 at the age of 80 but his philanthropic work has been carried on by daughter Maryanne.

Thanks to money from the Hugo Charitable Trust which Maryanne set up in 2017, scientists at the University of Aukland have been able to develop a treatment that could save the lives of babies all over the world.


Associate Professor Katie Groom and her team at the Liggins Institute believe the simple treatment will safely prevent short-term breathing problems that are more common in babies born by planned or elective caesarean section than in other newborns.

The research project, called the C*STEROID Trial, is set to involve more than 2,500 pregnant women and their babies around New Zealand.

It is the largest trial ever undertaken in this field and will be the first to explore both the benefits and potential side-effects of the treatment.

Maryanne Green, the founder of the Hugo Charitable Trust, with Frankie Burke (Hugh’s sister), Ann Green (Hugh’s sister-in-law) and John Green (Hugh’s brother).

Chair of the Hugo Charitable Trust, Mark Owens said supporting medical research was always a key focus for Mr Green and that the Trust was delighted to be carrying on the Donegal entrepreneur’s vision.

Speaking to the Donegal News from New Zealand, Mark Owens said, “Hugo is thrilled to support the Liggins Institute and the transformational research they are undertaking.

“The donation has removed the obstacle of spending time searching for funding and allowed them to focus on this vital research on babies and mothers.”

On what her father would have thought of the project being developed by the University of Auckland team, Maryanne Green said he would have been very proud.

“Growing up in Ireland and growing up poor gave Hugh a strong work ethic and other values and life skills that set him on his way.

“He was then grateful that he found opportunities in New Zealand that gave him the wealth to be able to give back.

“Hugh loved both Ireland and New Zealand equally and he believed passionately that education was the key to a better New Zealand,” added Maryanne.

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