University of Galway announces 2022 honorary degree recipients

Margaretta D'Arcy

Margaretta D'Arcy

Margaretta D’Arcy, Lelia Doolan, Dr Jerry Cowley, and Ronan Scully will receive honorary degrees at next week’s winter conferring ceremonies, University of Galway has announced.

The celebrations will take place from Wednesday, November 23 to Tuesday, November 29, and the honorary degree awardees will join more than 3,600 students graduating over the five days.

Margaretta D’Arcy is a well known playwright, film maker, actor, author, and theatre activist. She has been a member of Aosdána since its inauguration in 1981. She was a partner for more than 50 years of the late John Arden, an eminent British playwright and novelist, and collaborated on many stage and radio plays including Non Stop Connolly Show and Whose is the Kingdom, a radio drama series.

Ms D’Arcy was a founder member of Women in Media and Entertainment, affiliated to National Women’s Council of Ireland and a member of ESCOC, UN. She hosted also Radio Pirate Women, a community pirate radio station which campaigned against State censorship and was affiliated to AMARC International World Association of Community Broadcasters. She received a Katherine Davenport Award from Women’s International News Service.

Lelia Doolan has worked as actor, director, and producer, including the Globe Theatre, RTÉ, the Abbey Theatre, and Bord Scannán na hÉireann. She was a student of social mores and of anthropology in Belfast in the 1970s. She worked for Combat Poverty in Erris, Co Mayo, and also co-founded and attempted to run and teach the first course in film and video in the College of Commerce, Rathmines in the early 1980s, and later in Galway in the then GMIT.

Ms Doolan did film production work with Joe Comerford and Bernadette McAliskey among others, and worked with disabled women in Zimbabwe, and with graduates in Irish studies in Cluj University, Romania. Since moving to live in south Galway in the early 1980s, she has been involved with various cultural productions, activisms, studies, film festival and Cinemobile activities, and cinema building.

Dr Jerry Cowley is a former Rehab Person of the Year, and Mayo Person of the Year. He is an honours law graduate and qualified barrister, co-founder and former chairman of the National Federation of Group Water Schemes, and former vice-president of the Irish Council for Social Housing.

As an Independent TD for Mayo from 2002 to 2007, he founded and led the successful campaign for a Mayo orthopaedic unit, as well as spearheading the campaign for a national Irish helicopter emergency medical service, and for better cancer services including the extension of the BreastCheck programme to the west and southwest, and the HSE Mulranny ambulance base.

He has been a strong advocate of providing local rural services to retain local populations, and is the founder, former chairman, and life president of the not-for-profit registered charity Safe Home Ireland which has assisted 2,400 long-term Irish emigrants to repatriate permanently by securing them housing.

Ronan Scully is Self Help Africa’s regional representative for the midlands and the west of Ireland. He has spent much of his career working as a volunteer and programme co-ordinator in developing countries, including India, Nepal, Ethiopia, and Angola. He is GOAL’s representative in the west since 2000 and has been working for GOAL for 18 years.

He travels frequently to Africa and has this year spent months in Ukraine, Ethiopia, Kenya, and many parts of Africa working with his colleagues in Self Help Africa. He also works with local, regional, and national media outlets, and visits schools and colleges, along with youth, sporting and community groups, to raise awareness of developing world issues. Having previously worked with Foroige, Mr Scully is enthusiastic about developing and delivering educational programmes for young people.

Ronan Scully has received numerous awards, including the Irish Young Person of the Year Award (1997 ); the Offaly Sports Star of the Year Award in 1988; the Galway Person of The Year Award in 2004; and the Galway Mayor’s Award in 2004. He will also receive the Oireachtas Human Rights and Dignity Award for his work in December 2022.

The university will also celebrate two of the honorary degree recipients from 2021, who were unable to be conferred previously due to the pandemic, namely renowned traditional musician and composer Máirtín O’Connor, and Mary O’Malley, an award-winning poet and member of Aosdána.

“On behalf of University of Galway, I am delighted to be in a position to recognise this group of extraordinary individuals, and to recognise them at the same time as we celebrate the achievements of over 3,600 of our students across our four colleges,” president of University of Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said this week. “Each one has made an excellent and distinctive contribution to public life, the betterment of society, and the interests of humanity, leaving the world in a better place than we found it, which is the responsibility of us all.”


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