Catherine Corless, the Tuam historian whose selfless work uncovered the abuses at the Mother and Baby Home in the town is to be honoured by NUI Galway next month when she will be conferred with an Honorary Degree at the 2018n Autumn Conferring.
News of the award was universally greeted this week and comes just months after she was presented with the Bar of Ireland Human Rights Award in recognition of ‘exceptional humanitarian service’.
Others to be honoured next month include internationally-recognised traditional Irish musician Sharon Shannon; activist for rights of people with dementia, Helen Rochford Brennan, activist for rights of people with dementia; and biodiversity campaigner and founder of BurrenBeo Trust, Brendan Dunford.
Speaking on the announcement, NUI Galway President, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said NUI Galway is fortunate to be associated with many outstanding honorary graduates throughout its history and those being honoured this year form a particularly distinguished group.
“Each one has made an outstanding and distinctive contribution in their field. In honouring these exceptional individuals, we signal what we value in areas that matter to us and to our society - local history, disability rights, music and environmental sustainability.
“NUI Galway is very pleased to be in a position to recognise these exceptional individuals. Each of those we honour also have a special bond with our region - drawing on the unique experiences, strengths and challenges with which we as a University also engage – history, environment, social policy and creative arts. On behalf of NUI Galway I am delighted to honour them and their achievements in this way,” he said.
Catherine Corless is best known for her research into the Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, and advocacy work on behalf of the survivors and the children who lost their lives. She has been awarded the Bar of Ireland Human Rights Award in recognition of ‘exceptional humanitarian service’, and a Rehab Group People of the Year Award in 2018.
Sharon Shannon is a renowned traditional Irish musician from Co Clare based in Galway who has influenced a generation of musicians. With over 10 multi-award winning albums she has received many awards including Hot Press and Meteor Awards, and was the youngest ever recipient of the Meteor Lifetime Achievement Award.
Helen Rochford Brennan has been at the forefront of developing new ideas and human rights strategies for people with dementia in Ireland and Europe since her diagnosis with dementia in 2012. Currently Chair of the EWGPWD in Alzheimer Europe she has an international track record as activist for people with dementia.
Brendan Dunford has been instrumental in re-invigorating biodiversity within the Burren through his initiative around Burren LIFE and the Burren programme. He has applied science to a societal problem of biodiversity and heritage loss, working with communities to produce more sustainable food systems. He was an instigator of The Burrenbeo Trust – a landscape charity dedicated to connecting all of us to our places and highlighting our role in caring for them.
The awards will be presented during the autumn conferrings to be held on week beginning October 15.