Honorary Degrees at Trinity

Posted on: 09 December 2016

Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University, Louise Richardson and Film maker, David Puttnam were awarded honorary doctorates at Trinity College Dublin today. They were joined by founder of Jones Engineering, Eric Kinsella and former Chief Nursing Officer with the Department of Health, Peta Taaffe, who were also honoured. Trinity’s Provost, Dr Patrick Prendergast and the Chancellor of the University, Mary Robinson presided at the ceremony.

Eric Kinsella, Peta Taaffe, Provost, Chancellor Mary Robinson, Vice-Chancellor Louise Richardson & Lord David Puttnam

Waterford born Professor Louise Richardson and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford originally studied history in Trinity College Dublin.  Before taking up her position in Oxford she was Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of St Andrews and before that Executive Dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study in the US.  In her oration at the honorary degree ceremony, Public Orator, Professor Anna Chahoud said:

In the very year of the centenary commemorations of the Easter Rising this fearless woman took up the supreme office at the University of Oxford, and was elected to the Academy of Social Sciences in the United Kingdom and to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She matches her powerful advocacy for the Humanities with an indefatigable defence of Human Rights. This Theatre, which has already applauded this historian’s achievements, may now resonate with the thunderous acclamation due to a maker of peace.”

Lord Puttnam & Provost

Film maker, Lord David Puttnam spent thirty years as an independent producer of award-winning films including ten Oscars, 25 Baftas and the Palme D'Or at Cannes. Among them are such memorable masterpieces as Chariots of Fire, The Mission and The Killing Fields.  Trinity has also been fortunate to have his guidance as advisor on the Trinity Access 21 programme, which promotes inclusive, high-tech and lifelong learning. In her oration, Professor Chahoud emphasised his significant contribution to education: 

“He has been a unique promoter of the Arts and Education in his country, in Europe, and in Ireland. The United Kingdom knows him as the founding Chair of the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts, the former Chancellor of the University of Sunderland and of the Open University, and the strenuous promoter of teaching at all levels. Ten years ago France crowned him ‘Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres’. The people of Ireland call him their Digital Champion and their fellow-citizen with full-rights.” 

Trinity alumnus and founder of Jones Engineering, Eric Kinsella has made a significant contribution to the education of engineering leaders in Ireland and elsewhere. His company is one of Ireland’s most successful mechanical and electrical engineering groups, with operations ranging from Dublin to Dubai.  Investment in people has been key to the success of the company.  The Public Orator emphasised this in her oration:

“He invests in people of eminent ‘technical skill and method’ – in a word, ‘quality’. He is equally aware that the construction of expertise and confidence required for the purpose must start at a young age: acting upon this belief, he has generously funded undergraduate scholarships in support of Engineering in his Alma Mater. His munificence extends beyond his own speciality. Thanks to his and his wife’s endowment, all our students can now avail of a new twenty-four-hour Study Hall in the Ussher Library.”  

Peta Taaffe has had a long and distinguished career in nursing. As the first Chief Nursing Officer with the Department of Health (1997-2001), she had a transformative influence on the nursing and midwifery professions in Ireland, including the policy decision to introduce degree entry education to nursing and midwifery.  She is also Dame Grand Cross of Honour and Devotion of the Order of Malta. Her work with the Order of Malta has helped transform services for pregnant women in Bethlehem and across the entire West Bank through her involvement in the Holy Family Hospital Bethlehem.  The Public Orator in describing her commitment to improving the standards of childbirth said:

“The very word ‘birth’ encapsulates her life-long mission to protect and promote the safety of childbirth in her homeland and in the Holy Land. If you travel to the West Bank, you will hear touching stories of the Irish Matron who has given invaluable aid to the local communities over four decades at the Holy Family Hospital Bethlehem.”

For full orations click here

Lord David Puttnam was awarded a Doctor in Laws, as were Professor Louise Richardson  and Peta Taaffe. Eric Kinsella was awarded a Doctor in Science.




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Caoimhe Ni Lochlainn, Head of Library Communications | nilochlc@tcd.ie | +353 1 896 4710