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22 June 2024  

NUI Honorary Conferring Ceremony 2017



Wednesday 11th October 2017 4.30 p.m., – Royal College of Physicians in Ireland

The National University of Ireland held its annual Honorary Conferring Ceremony on the 11th of October in the Corrigan Hall of the Royal College of Physicians in Ireland.

Seven highly distinguished individuals were conferred with honorary degrees of the National University of Ireland at the Ceremony. The honorary graduates, all exceptional in their own fields are former Chief Executive of the Higher Education Authority, Dr Tom Boland; musicians and siblings, Dr Finghin and Dr Dearbhla Collins; Ireland’s first legally blind solicitor and marathon runner Dr Sinead Kane; renowned artist Clare Langan; Dr Martin Mansergh, historian and former Fianna Fáil Senator, TD and Minister for State and Professor Anngret Simms, Professor Emeritus of Historical Geography at University College Dublin and member of the Royal Irish Academy.

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 them for their remarkable achievements.

International education consultant Dr Tom Boland was conferred with the honorary Degree of Doctor of Education for his contribution to education in Ireland through his roles as Chief Executive of the Higher Education Authority and as Director of Strategic Policy and legal adviser of the Department of Education and Skills. Professor John McHale, Dean of the College of Business, Public Policy & Law, NUI Galway identified Dr Boland as “a person of immense talent and integrity leading the development of our higher education system.” He went on to say that Dr Boland “has made an enormous contribution to Irish society through his leadership, energy and unwavering dedication”. Dr Boland is currently Chairman of the Board of Benefacts, a member of the advisory board of Asia Matters and a Board member of the National Youth Orchestra of Ireland and of the Denham Scholarship Foundation.

Musicians Dr Finghin Collins and Dr Dearbhla Collins were jointly conferred with the honorary Degree of Doctor of Music for their contributions to the Arts through music. Dr Finghin Collins has developed a flourishing international career throughout Europe, the United States, Australia and the Far East. Dr Collins was the first Associate Artist of the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, has been Artistic Director of the New Ross Piano Festival since its inception in 2006, and is also Artistic Director of Music for Galway since 2013. Dr Dearbhla Collins is a prize winning pianist and chamber music partner to many internationally renowned singers as well as Ireland’s leading vocalists. She is currently a vocal coach at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, Dublin and Executive Artistic Director of the Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition. NUI Senate Member, Linda O’Shea Farren introduced Drs Finghin and Dearbhla Collins commenting on both their individual and collaborative successes saying that the “rich tapestry of collaboration of sister and brother, both on stage and in artistic direction of music across all instruments and voice, has inspired young Irish musicians to stretch the boundaries of their talent and dare to dream. “ She finished by remarking that they “richly deserve the National University of Ireland’s highest honour for both their separate and joint contributions to the landscape of music in Ireland.”

Dr Sinead Kane, Ireland’s first first legally blind solicitor was conferred with the honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws for her contribution to legislation and legal policy in Ireland. Professor Caroline Fennell, Registrar and Deputy President, University College Cork introduced Dr Kane, who obtained a BCL and an LLM from UCC. Professor Fennell remarked that Dr Kane, “exemplifies leadership in what Sir Ken Robinson terms ‘creating a climate of possibility’… through leveraging the law in her legal advocacy; through her activism; (as an outspoken survivor of bullying, self-harm and an eating disorder) & in how she lives her life (this year becoming the first visually-impaired athlete to complete the World Marathon Challenge - seven marathons on seven continents in seven days).” Dr Kane qualified as a solicitor in 2009 and later entered a legal battle to secure visually-impaired legal professionals equal opportunities in court, ultimately achieving implementation of Section 28 of the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2008, which allowed visually impaired persons appearing before a court to have an assistant.

Renowned Irish artist Dr Clare Langan was conferred with an Honorary Doctor of Fine Art for her contribution to art through the mediums of film and photography. Her work can be found in a number of international public and private collections including The Irish Museum of Modern Art, The Arts Council of Ireland, The Office of Public Works, the Tony Podesta Private Collection, Washington and the Hugo and Carla Brown Collection, UK. She has represented Ireland in numerous international Biennales, including the 25th Bienal de Sao Paulo, 2002 Brazil; The Liverpool Biennial – International 2002, Tate Liverpool: Sounds and Visions, Art Film and Video from Europe, 2009, Museum of Modern Art, Tel Aviv; Singapore Biennial 2008, curated by Fumio Nanjo touring to Dojima River Biennale 2009, Osaka Japan; Busan Biennale 2010, South Korea. In 2017 she exhibited her lm The Human Flock at Lismore Castle Arts, Waterford. Her lm The Winter of 13 Storms will be exhibited at the B3 Biennal of the Moving Image Frankfurt 2017 curated by Kelly Gordon. Dr Langan was introduced by Professor Philip Nolan, President of Maynooth University at the Conferring Ceremony.

Dr Martin Mansergh was conferred with the honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws for his contribution to political affairs in Ireland. At the Conferring Ceremony Dr Mansergh was introduced by Professor Pat Guiry, Director of the Centre for Synthesis and Chemical Biology, UCD who identified him as “one of the most important contributors to the historic rapprochement between nationalism and unionism on this island.” He remarked that Dr Mansergh “is regarded as the consistently most influential figure over the Government's approach to securing an IRA ceasefire and conducting the subsequent negotiations.” Dr Mansergh was appointed Third secretary in 1974 when Garret Fitzgerald was Minister and became a First Secretary in 1977. He has worked for Fianna Fáil since that time, serving under three Fianna Fáil leaders, and playing a key role as the intellectual driving force in formulating Fianna Fáil policy on Northern Ireland. He later held the role of Director of Research, Policy and Special Advisor on Northern Ireland, through which he was main figure in the Irish government in their discussions with the nationalist parties. This work that was vital in the securing of the IRA ceasefire and ultimately led to the formation of the 1998 “Good Friday” Agreement. Professor Guiry praised Dr Mansergh for “his great courtesy and integrity, his extraordinary depth of learning, his infectious enthusiasm and behind that donnish and other-worldly exterior a great and practical common sense and most of all a genuine sense of patriotism.”

Professor Anngret Simms, Professor Emeritus of Geography at UCD was conferred with the honorary Degree of Doctor of Literature for her contribution to the field of geography in Ireland. Professor Niamh Moore-Cherry of the School of Geography, UCD introduced Professor Simms commenting that she “has played a significant role in the formation of generations of young academics across disciplinary boundaries in Ireland and abroad.” Professor Moore-Cherry praised Professor Simms for her “dedication to her subject and its inter-disciplinary connections across Europe; her determination to make academic work impactful; and her commitment to supporting women and young scholars are as evident today as they were when she arrived in Ireland over 50 years ago.”

Professor Simms worked at Universtiy College Dublin for 37 years. One of her greatest achievements was seen when she convinced the then President of the Royal Irish Academy to allow a small group of Irish scholars, to commence work on the ‘Irish Historic Towns Atlas’ similar to the German and European Historic Towns Atlas project. Since 1982 she has worked for the project and now in her retirement works as a consulting editor. The atlas is one of the flagship projects of the Royal Irish Academy- of which Professor Simms is now a member- and has recently published its 28th volume and is instrumental in promoting engagement between geographers, historians and archaeologists for mutual learning.