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19 May 2024  

Annual Honorary Conferring Ceremony of National University of Ireland


At a ceremony today (Dec 3rd) in the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, Kildare Street, the Chancellor of the National University of Ireland conferred honorary degrees on the following;

John Coolahan  DEd
Jane Corboy
Alice Maher 
John Travers
Paul Muldoon

Professor John Coolahan, Educationalist, is Professor Emeritus of Education from the National University of Ireland, Maynooth. He has lectured extensively in Ireland and abroad, is author of three books and has published over 120 articles in Irish and international journals. He was a founding member and President of the Educational Studies Association of Ireland, and was editor of Irish Educational Studies.
At international level, Professor Coolahan was leader or member of OECD Review Teams of Education in ten countries, on four continents; Vice-president of the EU Committee on Education  (1995-99); Consultant to the World Bank and the Council of Europe; member of the Review Body on Education in Northern Ireland (2001-02); and the co-founder and co-chairman of the standing conference on Teacher Education, North and South (2000-2008).
Introducing John Colahan, Professor Jim Walsh Vice Pres ident of NUI Maynooth said that his exceptional array of talents and achievements displayed by John Coolahan as an ‘innova tor in education and an inspirational and courageous leader who has successfully confronted vested interests; and as a facilitator of consensus on difficult issues of national importance’.
‘John is passionate about the potential of education to open minds, foster curiosity, and extend knowledge and to promote good citizenship among pupils and students of all ages, and in so doing to liberate society. His sustained contributions to teaching, research, scholarship, education policy are such that he is a most worthy recipient of the Degree of Doctor of Education’.
Jane Corboy Co-founder of  First Step Georgia  was described by Ms Cliona de Bhaldraithe Marsh, a member of the NUI Senate as one of our great philanthropists. While living in Georgia with her husband Denis, the EU Ambassador to Georgia and Armenia (1994-99), Jane Corboy became involved with various international organisations including UNICEF and Save the Children working with state-run institutions for young children and decided to co-found First Step Georgia in 1998  with Nino Kadagidze-Zhvania, the wife of the then Chairman of Parliament and subsequent Prime Minister Zurab Zhavania. The First Step Georgia (FSG) co-founders mobilized their contacts and their resources and set out to literally save the lives of these children as an emergency measure in the first instance.
‘Since then Jane has made a lifelong commitment to creating services in Georgia. What she has achieved in Georgia is extraordinary. This could not have been done without her commitment, her unstinting hard work, her demanding standards, her inspiration to all who work with her and the organisation’.
‘In 2008 Jane was awarded The Philanthropist of the year award which recognises extraordinary individuals who have shown outstanding leadership in the area of personal philanthropy and who, through their giving, have made a remarkable difference in bringing about sustainable social change.  This award encompasses her work with children in Georgia through The First Step charity (in Georgia) and The Next Step - Children of the Caucasus (in the UK & Ireland)’.
Alice Maher’s, artist, mid-career retrospective ‘Becoming’, currently on show at the Irish Museum of Modern Art’s new temporary residence at Earlsfort Terrace, includes 50 of her works spanning 25 years. Introducing the artist for her degree, Linda O’Shea Farren, member of the NUI Senate, said that the exhibition ‘is a testament to her place in the national and international art world’.

Each one of Alice’s works is deeply thought-through in intelligent communion with life, with people and, most of all, with lived reality.  Certain themes run through her works – themes such as the passage of time, memory, ephemerality, transformation, scale, balance and the repelled.  Her work is embedded in cultural history, myths and fairy tales as a means of linking human narrative.  All stories are linked for her, all materials carry within themselves the history of their meaning and use their very ordinariness to open up poetic imaginative space.

In 1994, Alice Maher was chosen to represent Ireland at the 22nd Bienal de Sao Paolo in Brazil. Since then her work has been critically acclaimed and can be seen in many leading public collections, including those of: The British Museum in London; The Pompidou in Paris; The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
Introducing John Travers Business / Economics Consultant, Professor Des Fitzgerald, UCD Vice-President for Research outlined his career in the Irish public sector, working for more than fifty years as a University demonstrator, teacher, town-planner, economic advisor and senior administrator.
‘As a young public servant in the 1960s he cut his teeth on the physical and regional plans prepared as part of the national planning process initiated by Government through Dr. T.K. Whitaker and his colleagues.  He was a member of the Government team, based in the Department of the Taoiseach, which negotiated and wrote the Programme for National Recovery in 1987 in consultation with the employer bodies and trade unions to address the economic crisis of the time.  As Chief Economic Advisor in the Department of Industry & Commerce he was a member of the team established by the Government in 1988 to prepare and negotiate with the European Union the set of operational programmes required to draw down the substantial increase in structural funds allocated to Ireland under the Single Market process’.
‘He was a member of the Government team, based in the Department of the Taoiseach, which negotiated and wrote the Programme for National Recovery in 1987 and in 1993 he was appointed as the founding CEO of Forfás, the industrial and science policy advisory body to Government. He retired from Forfás in 2002 and since then has been involved in economic and business consultancy in Ireland and overseas as well as sitting on a number of Boards in the private and public sectors including  Director of the Global Finance Academy at UCD (2006-2009), where he is a long-term member of the Advisory Board of the Michael Smurfit Graduate School of Business.  He was reappointed as Director-General of Science Foundation Ireland (2010-2011) to lead the Foundation at an important period in its evolution’.
Recommending John Travers for the honorary degree, Professor Fitzgerald cited his ‘distinguished career in public service, characterised by dynamism, foresight and a spirit of constant ambition for Ireland.  Further afield, his international standing is underlined by the fact that countries as diverse as Croatia, Jordan, Israel, Taiwan and Costa Rica have sought his advice on their economic development policies.  In doing so they reflect a fitting tribute, not just to his expertise and wisdom, but to a lifetime of outstanding public service’.
Outlining the career of poet Paul Muldoon, Professor Séan Ryder of NUI Galway said ‘it is not easy to find a poet with the confidence and craft to make poetry that is genuinely fresh, a poetry that extends the canon rather than simply replays it. Yet Paul Muldoon is certainly such a poet. In his 11 volumes of poetry over a period of 40 years his has been a striking and compelling voice for readers of poetry not just in Ireland but all over the English–speaking world. Muldoon’s most recent collections of poetry include Moy Sand and Gravel (2002), Horse Latitudes (2006) and Maggot (2010)
‘Since 1987 Paul Muldoon has lived in the United States, where he is now Howard GB Clark ’21 Professor at Princeton University, and Founding Chair of the Lewis Center for the Arts. He has held the post of Professor of Poetry at Oxford, and since 2007 has been poetry editor at The New Yorker magazine. He is a member of Aosdana, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the recipient of too many prizes to enumerate here, among which are the Pulitzer Prize and the T S Eliot Prize’.
Professor Ryder concluded remarking that ‘it is tremendously fitting that the National University of Ireland should today honour the remarkable creativity of Paul Muldoon, an Irishman whose place as one of the great poets of the English language is assured, and whose work continues to delight, to challenge and to inspire’.



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