"The luck of the Irish may come in handy this week for the Murphys, the Kellys, the O'Neills, and other Nebraskans with roots in Ireland and Irish names," says Nebraska State Treasurer Don Stenberg. "A quick search of the State Treasurer's unclaimed property database produced almost 2,000 properties for Nebraskans with common Irish names."
In all, the State Treasurer's Office is holding more than $125 million for more than 350,000 Nebraskans and former Nebraskans, Stenberg said.
"Even if you are not Irish, St. Patrick's Day could still be your lucky day if you check for unclaimed property at www.treasurer.org," Stenberg said.
The unclaimed property may be in the form of uncashed checks, deposits, dividends, insurance payments, lost IRAs, matured CDs, refunds, royalties, savings bonds, stocks, wages, and gift certificates.
A search for the first or last name Kelly produced the largest number of properties associated with Irish names in the Treasurer's database – 925. The Murphy surname came in second with 428 properties; the Sullivan and O'Sullivan names, 310. A search for other common Irish names yielded the following results:
"We are constantly looking for ways to promote the State Treasurer's unclaimed property program and to make Nebraskans aware of the more than $125 million we are holding for them," Stenberg said. "Stories of Nebraskans like Maureen O'Neill Murray of Omaha, who just two weeks ago unexpectedly found money through our office, encourage others to search and help us make sure the money gets to its rightful owners."
Come St. Patrick's Day on Sunday, Maureen O'Neill Murray says she will sit down with her Irish relatives for the traditional corned beef and cabbage dinner and table talk about her and her husband's major house remodeling.
The remodeling project got a boost when Murray learned that almost $2,000 was being held in her maiden name in the Unclaimed Property Division of the Treasurer's Office. She said she plans to put the money toward shower valves and faucets in her remodeled Omaha home.
"We do corned beef and cabbage and anything green for St. Pat's," said Murray, 36, a wife and mother of two. She is the oldest of seven children in the O'Neill family. Her father, Michael, former president of the J. F. O'Neill Packing Co. in Omaha, came from a large Irish family of 17 children. Fourteen of the 17 children are living.
"The joke in our family is that, in Omaha, everyone knows an O'Neill," Murray said.
Murray said she was surprised to learn that she had unclaimed property. She said she had heard of the program, but didn't figure it applied to her, thinking to herself, "I'm not missing anything."
Murray said her grandfather the late J.F. "Jim" O'Neill was born in Indiana and moved to Omaha in the 1950s from Michigan. As the family story goes, Jim wanted to be closer to a major livestock market and flipped a coin to decide between Omaha and Chicago.
Michael O'Neill followed in his father's footsteps. "He's been in meat packing all his life. When he was younger, he did everything—the pork processing plant, the hide machine, split carcasses," his daughter said. He retired in 2010, and now his younger brother Ron is company president.
The O'Neill Packing Co. is one of only four packing companies left out of some 25 to 30 companies in south Omaha in the 1950s when Jim started his business, Murray said. The company has survived by downsizing and focusing on a niche market for branded beef and organic and natural processing. O'Neill Packing was the first company in the United States to be approved for exporting meat to the European Union, Murray said.
Murray said accompanying her father to the diner on the top floor of the Omaha Stockyards Exchange Building where "the old timers gathered for steak and eggs and coffee" is among her favorite childhood memories. "Just my dad and me and the old cowboys sitting around in boots and hats," she said.
She also remembers downtown Omaha parades featuring the Ancient Order of the Hibernians, the oldest and largest Irish Catholic organization in the United States, according to its website. Her father was once a member.
While Nebraskans with Irish names are encouraged to check the Treasurer's unclaimed property database this week, all Nebraskans can search any time for their names or the names of family members and friends at www.treasurer.org. Names submitted to the Treasurer's Office in the past year are included in the 2013 Unclaimed Property Report, which was published March 10 in the Omaha World-Herald and the Scottsbluff Star-Herald.
The report also will be published in the following daily newspapers: