Richard Egan, former U.S. Ambassador to Ireland and billionaire businessman killed himself with a shotgun blast at his Boston residence on Friday police have confirmed.

He locked himself in a linen closet in his Boston home and shot himself at 12.32 p.m. on Friday.

Egan was suffering from stage 4 terminal lung cancer. A nurse who was present called police.

He was 73 and the founder of EMC Corporation a multi million dollar corporation. He was routinely listed as among the richest men in the world by Forbes magazine. They estimated his net worth in 2005 as $1.3 billion

He was President George Bush's first ambassador to Ireland appointed in March 2001 and served during 9/11, He spent 15 months in Dublin but was ill suited for the job.

A shy, reserved man he was not comfortable with the public aspects. He quit the post in June 2002 after a little over a year.

Privately, he was said to be frustrated by the slow moving nature of the job while his wife was said to be unhappy in the damp Irish climate.

Egan leaves behind his wife, Maureen, and five children. The family released a statement last night asking for privacy.

“Ambassador Richard Egan died today at this home in Boston after a long illness,” the statement said. “Ambassador Egan was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer in May . . . “This is a great loss to our family and we are terribly saddened.”

In addition to lung cancer, Egan was also being treated for emphysema, diabetes and high blood pressure, the statement said. No funeral plans were announced.

Egan was a a resident of the exclusive Four Seasons condominiums on Boylston Street in Boston.

He was a major contributor to the George W. Bush campaign and was rewarded with the position in Ireland.

While there he will be most remembered for attending a Sinn Fein annual convention right after 9/11.

Because the visit took place directly in the aftermath of 9/11 Sinn Fein was under pressure on the terrorism front. Egan's presence signaled that the Bush administration was still determined to deal with Sinn Fein despite 9/11.

Egan graduated Northeastern University in 1961 with a degree in Engineering and was on the team that helped develop the Apollo moon mission memory systems.

He founded EMC, a disk memory storage system in 1979.

The company experienced massive growth during the tech boom of the subsequent two decades.

Following his return to the U.S.  he remained closely associated with  Republican fundraising and was close to Vice President Cheney  

On March 26, 2006 The Irish Times reportedthe indictments of three people by the U.S. Attorney's Office in New York, including two KPMG senior partners accused of setting up tax shelters using Irish companies. The IRS claimed that Egan invested $62 million in the scheme, though would not disclose whether Irish firms were involved.

Egan, an engineer by training, served in the Marine Corps Reserve during the Korean War, when he was 17. 

“Dick Egan served his country with great honor and distinction,” said former Massachusetts Gov. Paul Cellucci. “More importantly, he was one of the finest and most entrepreneurial business leaders our state has seen for some time, creating tens of thousands of jobs and helping lead the commonwealth’s economic recovery in the mid-1990s. Dick was a good friend to me and I will always appreciate his support and miss him.”

“The world lost a great man and a great leader today,” EMC CEO Joe Tucci said in a statement yesterday. “On behalf of more than 40,000 EMC employees from around the world, we extend our deepest condolences to Mrs. Egan and the entire family.

“Dick’s vision became one of the world’s top technology companies, and his legacy will live on through the tens of thousands of lives he affected in so many positive ways,” Tucci said. “We have all lost a great mentor and friend.”