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20 September 2017  


NUI Confers Honorary Degrees at RCPI  

01.12.2016

 

Thursday 1st December 2016 4.30 p.m., – Royal College of Physicians in Ireland


The National University of Ireland held its annual Honorary Conferring Ceremony on the 1st of December in the Corrigan Hall of the Royal College of Physicians in Ireland.

Six highly distinguished individuals were conferred with honorary degrees of the National University of Ireland. The six, each exceptional in his or her own field are Brian Bourke, visual artist; Dr Rhona Mahony, Master of the National Maternity Hospital; Dr Margaret Mullett, Chair of the Irish Haemochromatosis Association (IHA); Professor Helen Watanabe-O’Kelly, Professor of German and Literature at the University of Oxford; Professor Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh, Professor Emeritus of History and former Vice-President of National University of Ireland, Galway and Dr Ruairí Quinn, former Minister and leader of the Labour Party.

Speaking at the ceremony in the Royal College of Physicians in Ireland, the Chancellor of NUI Dr Maurice Manning congratulated the new graduates and commended their remarkable achievements. On behalf of NUI and those present, the Chancellor also extended his good will / best wishes to Dr T. K. Whitaker, who served as Chancellor of NUI from 1976 to 1996, on the upcoming centenary of his birth, on 8 December 2016.

 

Visual artist Dr Brian Bourke was conferred with the honorary Degree of Doctor of Fine Arts for his contribution to Irish culture through painting. Dr Bourke was introduced by Dr Nessa Cronin of NUI, Galway. Dr Cronin identified him as ‘a Doctor of Fine Arts in the best of Irish and European traditions.’ She made note of his ‘prodigious talent ..[and].. the expansive radius of his intellect’. Dr Bourke has worked as an artist, a sculptor, a musician, a puppeteer, a theatre-maker and a portrait painter. Dr Bourke represented Ireland at the Paris Biennale and the Lugano Exhibition of Graphics in 1965. In 1985 he was named the Sunday Independent Artist of the Year, was included in the formative Rosc exhibition in Cork in 1980, and received the prestigious O’Malley Award from the Irish-American Cultural Institute in 1993. He is an honorary member of R.H.A and an elected member of Aosdána.

Dr Rhona Mahony, Master of the National Maternity Hospital was conferred with the honorary Degree of Doctor of Medicine for contribution to public health and specifically to healthcare for women and infants in her role at the NMH. Introducing Dr Mahony, Professor Philip Nolan of Maynooth University commented on her achievements and humanity as a clinician, researcher and teacher, and her ‘courage and authenticity as a leader. He also commended her on her part in the very recent agreement between the National Maternity Hospital and St. Vincent’s Healthcare Group providing for the move of the National Maternity Hospital and the co-location of maternity and acute adult health care on the Elm Park site, saying that it was a ‘testament to her leadership’ and that it would prove to be one of her most important accomplishments. Dr Mahony is an Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, a Specialist in Maternal and Fetal medicine and an Honorary Clinical Professor with RCSI. She was appointed as Master of the NMH in January 2012, making her the 17th master and the first female master since the foundation of the hospital in 1894, and the first female master of a maternity hospital anywhere in Ireland.

Margaret Mullett, Chair of the Irish Haemochromatosis Association (IHA) was conferred with the honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws for her contribution to public service and public health in raising awareness of haemochromatosis. Dr Mullett was introduced by Professor Frank Murray, President of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland who praised her for her services to health in Ireland through her advocacy regarding enhancing identification, early diagnosis and care of patients suffering from Hereditary Haemochromatosis (HH). Since 2002 Dr Mullett has been Chairwoman of the Irish Haemochromatosis Association, a registered national charity whose primary purpose is to raise awareness of Haemochromatosis. When she joined the IHA in 2001, there were 33 members. There are now more than 1500 members, which Professor Murray attributed to Dr Mullett, who, he said, ‘has played a key role in advancing HH in Ireland.’ She was key in the establishment of the Working Group to Government on HH, which reported in 2006. Dr Mullett was also appointed by Minister Mary Harney to serve on the board of the IBTS from 2006 to 2009.   

Professor Helen Watanabe-O’Kelly of the University of Oxford was conferred with the honorary Degree of Doctor of Literature for her contribution to the study of German literature and culture. Professor Watanabe-O’Kelly was introduced by Professor Patrick O’Donovan, University College Cork. Professor O’Donovan identified her as ‘an exceptional cultural historian’ and a highly distinguished Germanist, whose work also extends into other European literatures, ancient and modern. After undertaking her doctorate at the University of Basel in Switzerland in 1976, Professor Watanabe-O’Kelly taught at the University of Reading and later as Faculty Lecturer in German at Oxford. She was also a Fellow of Exeter College and was awarded the title of Professor of German Literature in 1992. Among her books are Melancholie und die melancholische Landschaft (1978), Triumphal Shews. Tournaments at German-Speaking Courts in their European Context 1560-1730 (1992) and Court Culture in Dresden from Renaissance to Baroque (2002). She currently leads a major European project, Marrying Cultures, which focuses on queens consort and on their part in fluctuating European identities between 1500 and 1800.

Professor Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh, Professor Emeritus of History and former Vice- President of the National University of Ireland, Galway was conferred with the honorary Degree of Doctor of Literature for his contribution to Irish History, the Irish language and Irish public life. Professor Ó Tuathaigh was introduced by Professor Mary Daly of the Royal Irish Academy, who spoke of his major role in explanding the range of Irish history and in bringing Irish language, literature and culture into the main field of historical inquiry. Professor Ó Tuathaigh has been a member of the Senate of NUI; the Fulbright Commission; the Irish Manuscripts Commission, An Coimisiún Logainmneacha, chair of Údarás na Gaeltachta and Bord na Gaeilge, a member of the Expert Advisory Group on Commemoration, and most recently as a member of President Higgins’ Council of State. He has published extensively, in English and Irish, on modern Irish history and historiography

Ruairí Quinn, former Minister and leader of the Labour Party was conferred with the honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws for his contribution to Irish public life and public service. Dr Quinn was introduced by Professor Caroline Hussey, former member of Senate and Registrar of UCD who commented on his ‘exceptional contribution to Irish public life.’ In all, Dr Quinn has served four decades between Dáil and Seanad, and remains Labour's longest serving public representative.  During that time, he has been successively, Minister of State in Environment, Minister for Labour, The Public Service, Enterprise and Employment and Finance. In 2011, he was appointed Minister for Education and Skills. He retired from Cabinet in July, 2014. Dr Quinn was leader of his Party from 1997 to 2002 and has remained a major figure in Irish and European Labour and Progressive Politics to the present day. He is a founding member, and the incoming Chair, of the Institute of International and European Affairs, in Dublin.