The Ireland Funds - 40 Years of Philanthropy

From the beginning

From the beginning it was always about a way for the Irish diaspora to express their love for Ireland by looking to the country’s future rather than to its past.

In doing so, The Ireland Funds enabled the many friends of Ireland around the globe to constructively express their goodwill back to the island of Ireland. Forty years on, the results of that goodwill have been outstanding. Countless lives have been changed for the better, and The Ireland Funds have grown to become largest network of friends of Ireland. Together, they have raised over $500 million to support thousands of outstanding organizations and initiatives. Funds raised are contributed by private sources, individuals, corporations and foundations.

It all began in 1976. Dan Rooney, former US Ambassador to Ireland and owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers football team along with fellow Pittsburgh businessman Anthony J.F. O’Reilly created what was then The Ireland Fund. With a trinity of goals – peace, culture and charity – The Ireland Fund appealed for support for Ireland and its people from all Americans, but especially those of Irish descent. Over the following decade, The Ireland Fund formed a thriving fundraising network of chapters in cities across the U.S. including Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, Palm Beach, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, San Francisco, San Diego and Washington D.C.

On St. Patrick’s Day 1987, The Ireland Fund and the American Irish Foundation, founded by Irish President Eamonn De Valera and U.S. President John F. Kennedy, merged at a White House ceremony to form The American Ireland Fund. Since then, the network has grown in scope, mission and reach. Today, The Worldwide Ireland Funds are active in 12 countries around the world. They have never wavered in their core mission: to deliver private philanthropic support to worthy causes which promote peace and reconciliation, arts and culture and education and community development.

The Ireland Funds salute the thousands of organizations supported over the last 40 years and the friends who have come to us and shared this wonderful road.