President of Ireland Michael D Higgins was the special guest at an event in NUI Galway on Monday celebrating the prodigious career of Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh, Professor Emeritus in History.
One of the great historians of his generation, Professor Ó Tuathaigh has garnered enormous respect as a teacher, writer, university leader and public intellectual for over 40 years.
The event also saw the launch of Culture and Society in Ireland since 1750 - Essays in honour of Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh.
The new book brings together 23 essays by academic colleagues and by former students.
Reflecting Ó Tuathaigh’s own versatility, the subject matter of the essays ranges widely, from the Famine of 1741 to the plays of Martin McDonagh, from Irish soldiers to Irish traditional musicians, from prisons to dispensaries.
Topics also include the novels of Gerard Griffin and William Carleton in the nineteenth century, and Woman’s Way magazine in the 1960s. Culture and Society in Ireland since 1750 features new research as well as probing reassessments of some of the major changes of recent centuries in Ireland.
A native of Limerick, Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh came to study at University College Galway (now NUI Galway ) in the 1960s.
Following post-graduate studies at University College Galway and Cambridge University, he returned to take a full-time post in History in 1971, and soon established his academic reputation with his book Ireland before the Famine.
A popular lecturer, he became known more widely during the 1970s through his media contributions and public lectures in both Irish and English.
As a Dean of Arts and Vice-President of the University, and as a member of the Senate of the National University of Ireland, he participated to a significant degree in university administration. Prominent in public life, he has acted as a chairperson of Údaras na Gaeltachta and of Bord na Gaeilge.
Throughout his career, Professor Ó Tuathaigh has been known throughout Ireland as a generous supporter of the work of voluntary and community organisations concerned with heritage and cultural matters.
“Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh has long been recognised as a commentator of originality, generosity and rare insight on the Irish experience,” said Dr John Cunningham, lecturer in history at NUI Galway, who co-edited the new book with his colleague Dr Niall Ó Ciosáin.
“He continues to be a fluent and distinctive voice, in both Irish and English, displaying a depth of knowledge and breadth of passion for this country”, Dr Cunningham said.