Category: Archive

Irish flood net site to claim inheritance

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Andrew Bushe

DUBLIN — A huge number of Irish people are logging onto a new U.S. internet site to discover if they can stake a claim for inheritances worth tens of millions of dollars.

The authorities in Chicago have been stunned by the reaction to their new site, which lists more than $30 million in unclaimed cash left behind by 1,550 people.

The list dates back 30 years and many have Irish names like Kelly, O’Brien, Lynch, Duggan, Moran, O’Connor, Carroll, Hogan, Kenny, Flood, Maher and Lynch.

"It’s like a lottery and there are a lot of Irish names on the list," said Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas, who is behind the attempt to give away all the money if the unknown heirs to the fortunes can be found.

"Many of these people may have been immigrants so the untraced relatives could be in Ireland.

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"When the estates were probated the details were published here, but the new site has resulted in inquiries from Ireland, Poland, Australia and other parts of the world. The interest has been phenomenal.

"I believe that many of these people didn’t want anyone to know how much they had. They didn’t want to die broke, so they didn’t tell anyone in case they would be ripped off."

She said a lot would have immigrant backgrounds of tragedy like famine and wars and would have secretly hoarded their money as a result.

"There would have been a knowledge of what it is like to lose everything or to have someone take what they owned," Pappas said. "So what did they do? They didn’t tell anyone what they had."

Pappas is of Greek origin. "The Irish and Greeks have a lot in common," she said. "They drive around in a 1957 car and they may have ten million dollars in the bank. But no one must know."

Chicago is a major Irish-American center and local politics was dominated for decades by Mayor Richard Daley, Cook County Democratic chairman and one of the last of the old-time big city bosses in the U.S.

Cook County is the second biggest in America and the first to list details of unclaimed cash of dead people on the Web.

"The courts have told us to hold the money until they decide what should be done about it," Pappas said. "But if the heirs can be found, and can prove their claim in the courts, then they will be entitled to it."

More than a million people had visited the site within days of it being launched. "The beauty of the technology is that it has an international reach and people can check themselves. I couldn’t have taken a million phone calls," Pappas said.

Those who wish to search for relatives can find the list at http://www.cookcountytreasurer.com/info/estates/.

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