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Mary McConnell Bailey gave her multi million fortune to the New York Public Library and Central Park Photo by: NY Post

Irish American woman leaves $20 million fortune to New York institutions

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Mary McConnell Bailey gave her multi million fortune to the New York Public Library and Central Park Photo by: NY Post

An Irish American woman who lived a modest life in New York has left her $20 million fortune to two of her favorite city institutions.

An east side resident of Manhattan, Mary McConnell Bailey gave her multi million fortune to the New York Public Library and Central Park, reports the New York Post.

Bailey, who passed away in February 2011 aged 88, lived a modest life, according to her friend Lizanne Stoll.

“You would have never known” she was rich, Stoll told the Post. “When we went to lunch, it was usually dutch. She was very secretive about it all.”

“I think once she had that money set aside, she didn’t give a damn [about it]. She didn’t feel it was hers at all,” Stoll said.

"Her apartment had that 1950s fresh-out-of-college look. She had nice antiques, but all the art on the walls seemed to be copies from MoMA,” Stoll said.

“Mary didn’t give a damn. It was quixotic. Those were not her priorities.”

The library and Central Park Conservancy recently got checks from the generous Irish American.

“I met her many times and had lunch with her twice, but I cannot remember her voice. That’s how soft-spoken she was,” said John Bacon, the library’s director of planned giving.

“She was always neat and careful, but nothing fancy. No jewelry, no nothing. And always a track suit — day, night or otherwise.’’

According to Bacon the money will be used to help keep local branches open.

The newspaper says that Bailey was raised in North Hampton, Massachusetts  and that she moved to the city in the 1940s.  After her husband died in World War II she never remarried. She attended Columbia University and taught kindergarten in Chelsea. After she inherited a sizeable sum from her mother, she stopped working. 

Her family's wealth came from shares in Roaring Spring Blank Book Co, which produced black-and-white marble notebooks, that are often used in grade school.

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