FOUR Limerick-based organisations have benefited from a surprise visit by a secret millionaire as part of an RTE Two programme which is to air this Monday night at 9.35pm.
Businessman Richard Mulcahy leaves the luxuries of his life in County Wicklow behind to go undercover in Limerick to get a feel for what it is like for people striving to improve their lives in the face of constant adversity.
Living on a limited budget with no modern conveniences, Richard forges his own way in the Limerick community working and volunteering alongside people in four local organisations – the Lough Gur-based Cliona Ring Foundation, and the city-based Our Lady Of Lourdes Community Centre, the Organisation of National Ex-Servicemen Patrick Sarsfield Branch, and the NOVAS Initiative Street Outreach.
“I have to say I was impressed with Limerick in general. Things have changed significantly since my time,” said Richard who as part of the programme lived for 10 days in a flat near the Milk Market in the city centre.
Richard decided to support the Cliona Ring Foundation after learning about their endeavours to help families with seriously ill children.
During his visit to the charity’s office in Lough Gur, Richard couldn’t reveal his identity and so interviewed the late Cliona Ring’s parents Brendan and Terry for what they believed was a programme entitled ‘Generations’ to celebrate RTE’s 50th anniversary.
“Two ladies arrived down and said that RTE were doing a programme about the changes in life in Ireland after 50 years. They wanted to demonstrate that there were people out there like ourselves who were working for the better cause,” Brendan explained.
A couple of weeks later Brendan and Terry were made aware that Richard was, in fact, taking part in the The Secret Millionaire programme. “He said I haven’t been totally honest with you guys I’m Richard and I happen to have a few quid. I’m actually a millionaire and I want to help you guys.”
Brendan was understandably shocked. “I still am. We genuinely hadn’t a clue.”
The businessman decided to give something back to Limerick after studying engineering in the NIHE (now known as the University of Limerick) in the 1970s. “Brendan and Terry were an inspiration to me so you just have to credit people like them. We are all so absorbed in our own lives and detached from reality,” he said.
At our Lady of Lourdes Centre he worked with CEO at Our Lady of Lourdes Community Services Group Lee-Ann Kennedy-Purcell who he described as “absolutely magnificent”. “The people who work with her, the commitment they have is just unbelievable,” he said.
Richard also visited the Organisation of National Ex-Servicemen Patrick Sarsfield Branch. He has a particular interest in the army as he is the grandson of General Richard Mulcahy, Army General, former leader of Fine Gael and Chief of Staff of the Irish Republican Army during the War of Independence.
“It was interesting to get feedback from them about what life was like after the army,” he explained.
Meanwhile, a walk around in the city centre on his first night led him to the NOVAS Initiative Street Outreach. “I saw these two girls handing out coffee and sandwiches to people on the street. I went up and started chatting to them and I realised these girls were doing this out of the goodness of their hearts,” he explained.
Richard started out making money as a DJ. He went on to develop and sell cosmetics and pharmaceutical businesses over the years and became a millionaire in the process.
He is currently executive chairman of a mobile software start-up SmartBuilder Software Ltd.