Paul O’Connell, Doctor of Arts

Paul O'Connell, Doctor of Arts
Pictured at the National University of Ireland honorary conferring

NUI Honorary Conferring Ceremony 2015 

The National University of Ireland Honorary Conferring Ceremony 2015 took place on the 2nd of December in the Examinations Hall of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.

Image contains:

(back row, l-r)
Dr Maurice Manning, Dr Michael Murphy, Professor Margaret MacCurtain, Dr Tom Kiernan, Professor Ronan Fanning, Professor Donal Leech, Dr Attracta Halpin,

(front row, l-r)

Dr Margaret Murnane, Dr Mary Daly, Dr Paul O’Connell, Dr Sir David Goodall, and Dr Dick Ahlstrom.

The Chancellor of the University, Dr Maurice Manning, conferred Honorary Degrees on the following individuals:

Professor Margaret Murnane, Distinguished Professor at the University of Colorado, DSc

Mr Richard Ahlstrom, Science Editor of The Irish Times, DSc

Mr Paul O’Connell, Irish Rugby Player, DArts

Sir David Goodall, Former Diplomat, LLD

Professor Mary Daly, Historian and President of the Royal Irish Academy, DLitt

Dr Margaret Murnane, a professor in the Department of Physics and Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Colorado, was conferred with the honorary Degree of Doctor of Science for her pioneering accomplishments and distinction in the sciences. Dr Michael Murphy, President of University College Cork, introduced Dr Murnane, who graduated with an MSc in Experimental Science from UCC in 1983. Dr Murphy identified her as one of the leading optical physicists of her generation, and acknowledged her groundbreaking achievements which have transformed the field of ultrafast laser and x-ray sciences. Dr Murnane was elected as a Fellow of the American Philosophical Society in 2015.

Dr Richard Ahlstrom was also conferred with the honorary Degree of Doctor of Science, for his personal distinction in science journalism and contribution to the public understanding of science in Ireland. As the Science Editor of The Irish Times, he presents the activities of the scientific research community in Ireland to the Irish public in an entertaining, creative, intelligent and informed manner. He communicates complex scientific research in a form that can be clearly understood by a wide newspaper audience. Introducing him at the ceremony, Professor Donal Leech, Dean of the College of Science in NUI Galway, acknowledged the significant contribution Dick Ahlstrom has made to public discourse on the sciences and to the appreciation of the impact of scientific research on our lives.

Irish rugby legend Dr Paul O’Connell was conferred with the honorary Degree of Doctor of Arts. NUI is pleased to honour Dr O’Connell for his contribution to Irish life through his outstanding achievements in sport at a local, provincial, national, and international level. Former Ireland and Lions captain Tom Kiernan – also an NUI honorary graduate – introduced Dr Paul O’Connell. Dr Kiernan outlined his illustrious and lengthy career and exceptional record at all levels of rugby. Tom Kiernan also commended Dr O’Connell for his efforts as a positive role model who has used his public position on many occasions to support those most in need.

In 2015, the thirtieth anniversary of the Anglo-Irish Agreement, NUI acknowledged Dr Sir David Goodall’s contribution to Anglo-Irish Relations with the conferring of the honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws. David Goodall’s Grand Canal conversations with Michael Lillis of the Department of Foreign Affairs evolved into the Nally-Armstrong negotiations, which culminated in the Anglo-Irish Agreement signed by Garret FitzGerald and Margaret Thatcher at Hillsborough Castle on 15 November 1985. Introducing David Goodall, Professor Ronan Fanning described his role in an Agreement that marked a moment when, in Dr Goodall’s own words, ‘an inter-governmental relationship that had been adversarial became co-operative’.

NUI honoured Professor Mary Daly with the conferring of an honorary Degree of Doctor of Literature. Through this degree, NUI recognises both Professor Daly’s distinction as a leading Irish historian and her contribution to Irish public life. In 2014, Professor Daly was elected President of the Royal Irish Academy, the first female president in its 229-year history. Author of ten books, her distinguished career has made her one of Ireland’s most prominent historians. She is emeritus professor of history at UCD and currently a member of the government’s Expert Advisory Group on Commemorations. Introducing her, Professor Margaret MacCurtain praised Mary Daly for her dedication to public service, noting that the energetic and innovative strategies she has pursued have brought the work of the Academy to a wider audience.


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