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Aengus and Jack Finucane: Two 'Giants of Men' honoured in Limerick

Aengus and Jack Finucane
Aengus and Jack Finucane, two of the most pivotal figures in the history of Concern Worldwide.

A new bench has been unveiled in Limerick, recognising the work of two of Concern's finest humanitarians, Fr. Jack Finucane and his older brother, Fr. Aengus Finucane. 

The commemorative structure is situated on the River Shannon at Barrington's Pier in the Irish city, where Aengus and Jack grew up, and will be unveiled on Thursday 18 August on the eve of World Humanitarian Day.

Working as young priests during the famine in Biafra in 1968, Aengus and Jack would join forces with John and Kay O'Loughlin-Kennedy who had founded Africa Concern as a response to the crisis.

It is from that point that the priests' long association with the organisation now known as Concern Worldwide began. 

“The Finucane brothers are giants of men, what they achieved was extraordinary," says Concern CEO Dominic MacSorley. 

"While the brothers had received the freedom of the City of Limerick, we wanted a lasting and visible tribute to remind this and future generations of the power of positive change, change that was made possible through the generous support of the people of Limerick and across every county in Ireland."

Finucane memorial bench view 2
A concept image of the bench/sculpture in memorial of Frs Aengus and Jack Finucane

'Giants of Men'

The commemorative bench - titled ‘Giants of Men’ - was designed and made by Tom Roche from Rhode, Co. Offaly and Knut Klimmek, based in Dublin, who won the commission for the piece following a public tender.

Both furniture makers by trade, Tom and Knut took more than two years to perfect the piece at their bases in Offaly and Dublin.

Upon completion, the bench was taken apart and then transported to the site in Limerick before being re-assembled at its new home overlooking the River Shannon.

Knut Klimmet speaks at Limerick memorial launch
Knut Klimmet, designer of the bench with Tom Roche, speaks at the Limerick memorial launch. Photo: Eilis Staunton / Concern Worldwide.

Aengus and Jack Finucane's work with Concern

The work of Fr. Aengus and Fr. Jack Finucane, from Concern's earliest days through to the 1990s and into the new century, still resonates today. 

Aengus would become CEO of Concern in September 1981, leading the organisation for almost 16 years, and his work would inspire new generations of aid workers to help hundreds of thousands of people throughout the world. 

After leaving the role of CEO in June 1997, Aengus would go on to play a key role in setting up the Concern office in the United States and remained close to the organisation until his death in 2009. 

While he may have been quieter than his elder brother, Jack Finucane was no less dedicated, no less compassionate and no less resourceful.

Bench on Barrington's Pier
The finished bench as it appears on Barrington's Pier in Limerick. Photo: Eilis Staunton / Concern Worldwide.

In his early years with Concern, Jack would work as Country Director in Bangladesh where he would hone his skills as a humanitarian. 

In 1984 in Ethiopia, his leadership skills really came to the fore as helped to bring the famine gripping the country to worldwide attention. He would advise Bob Geldof on where best to direct funds from the Live Aid concerts, and his decision to get Concern involved in the relief effort in Ethiopia would save many lives. 

While he formally retired in 2002, Jack never stopped working for Concern. 

He flew to Sudan in 2004 to help with the response to the Darfur crisis, and would also oversee our operations in Sri Lanka following the devastating tsunami later that same year. 

Following Jack Finucane's death in 2017, current Concern CEO Dominic MacSorley wrote, "They say the character of a nation is closely defined by the heroes it chooses. In Ireland we have created a special place for writers, sports stars, and politicians, but surely the humanitarian giants such as Jack and Aengus, whose impact extends far beyond these shores, deserve to sit right at the top of that table."

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