A MILLIONAIRE businessman said he believes Ireland’s wealthiest people should help others less fortunate after he was stunned to see the level of poverty in some parts of Limerick.
Richard Mulcahy, one of the ‘secret millionaires’ who appeared in the RTE programme of the same name, returned to Limerick this week to examine progress made by organisations he donated thousands of euro to.
Mr Mulcahy told the Limerick Leader that his ten-day stay in Limerick during the filming of the programme was “an amazing experience, unbelievable.
“I just didn’t realise how much poverty there could be in Ireland. In the Celtic Tiger era you would think no one would be living in poverty, but this was just unbelievable what I saw, particularly out in Ballinacurra Weston,” he said.
The Wicklow resident, who lived in Patrick Street in Limerick city 30 years ago when he was a student at the NIHE, said like most people he was “detached from that - that there could be that level of poverty in Ireland.”
“That really opened my eyes up. That and the number of people who just volunteer their time. It hasn’t changed me, it has just made me realise how lucky I am in life. I had a good education, I was brought up in a nice environment, I never had to want for anything. You take these things for granted until you got out there and see what other people don’t have in life,” he said.
Since the programme, he has maintained relationships with the four organisations in Limerick he donated to, and has made a personal resolution as a result of that experience. “I’m going to give more time [to charities]. It’s easy to give money, but it’s not easy to give time.”
He believes that people need to leave behind their Celtic Tiger attitudes to money and help others in the community in order to live a happier life.
“In the Celtic Tiger people just wanted to keep on making more and more money. I think if we’re ever going to become a real nation again we have to start thinking of each other and get back to that sense of community, and looking after each other, rather than worrying about making money. How much money do you need to survive and have a comfortable life? You don’t need the millions that people were chasing.
“It was absolute lunacy. I was very lucky I had sold my business at the height of the market. The banks were offering me a lot more money to go off and invest in projects, but I cleared all my loans off and had no interest in that, because you can only live under one roof at a time, so what’s the point of it?”
Joe O’Mahony of the ONE said Mr Mulcahy’s visit at the time was “a stroke of good luck” and they hope to expand their services in the future.