The Honourable Sir Donnell Deeny is Inaugurated as New Pro-Chancellor at Trinity College Dublin

Posted on: 31 March 2014

The Honourable Sir Donnell Deeny, was Inaugurated as New Pro-Chancellor at Trinity College Dublin last night [March 27th] at a special ceremony in the Provost’s House.   Sir Donnell, a chancery judge in the High Court of Northern Ireland, is also a Trinity graduate.

Commenting on his election, Trinity Provost, Dr Patrick Prendergast said:

“There is a long tradition of connectivity between Trinity and Northern Ireland with high numbers of students attending the University down through the decades. In many ways Trinity acted as a bridge between North and South and it fulfilled this important role through difficult times. Representative of that tradition, Sir Donnell Deeny’s election as Pro-Chancellor has particular resonance today and it is an honour that he is taking up the position. As a Trinity graduate he also acts as a great example to prospective students as Trinity embarks on its Northern Ireland engagement programme, stimulating student mobility on the island of Ireland.”

 A native of Lurgan, Co. Armagh, the Honourable Sir Donnell Deeny is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin where he studied Legal Science following his secondary school education at Clongowes Wood College. He was active in many university bodies including the magazine publication, TCD Miscellany, DU Players and the debating society, the  College Historical Society which he represented  in the Irish Times National Debating  Championship and won three times.

 He was called to the Bar of Northern Ireland in 1974 and practised there, taking silk in 1989, until his appointment to the High Court in 2004.  He was knighted in 2005. He is now the Presiding Judge of the Chancery Division.  He is also a member of the Irish Bar and was appointed Senior Counsel in 1996, and is a member of the English Bar being elected a Bencher of the Middle Temple in 2006. 

Sir Donnell has also been active outside the law, in Northern Ireland and across the border, serving as High Sheriff of Belfast in 1983, Chairman of Opera Northern Ireland,Trustee of the Ulster Museum and as a director of the Tyrone Guthrie Centre and Hearth Social Housing.  He was the founding Chairman of the Ireland Professorship of Poetry which sends a distinguished poet to Trinity, Queen’s University Belfast and UCD in triennial procession.   He was Chairman of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland from 1993 to 1998.  He chairs the United Kingdom Spoliation Advisory Panel which advises government and the museum and galleries sector throughout the UK on the return of art spoliated during the Nazi era.  He is President of the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society and an Honorary Member of the Royal Town Planning Institute. His wife, Alison, is also a Trinity graduate as is the eldest of his five children.