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Honorary Degrees 2018-19


On Thursday 18 April, 2019 at 3pm honorary degrees of the University of Dublin were conferred on David Cabot, Yvonne Farrell, Shelley McNamara, Carmel Naughton, Patricia O’Brien and Cormac Ó Gráda at a Commencements Ceremony in the Public Theatre (Orations PDF)

David Cabot  (Sc.D.)


David Cabot has devoted his life to the study of this island’s flora and fauna evidenced through extensive writings including several books in the Collins Natural History Series (HarperCollins), from Irish Birds (1994; five editions), Ireland (1999), to a new work, The Burren (2018). He is a Trinity graduate, an ornithologist and environmentalist. He is also a distinguished film-maker, founding Wild Goose Films in 1988, producing documentaries for RTÉ and BBC, well received at international festivals. As an environmentalist he has undertaken valuable consultancy work internationally. He has served as special advisor at the Department of the Taoiseach and Head of Conservation at what is now the Environmental Protection Agency. He has served as President of the European Committee for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources and Chair of a Royal Irish Academy Committee, among many other duties. He has achieved all of this without the support of a University or Public Body position. He is one of our country’s most distinguished citizens, a great ornithologist and writer. 

The Grafton Architects
Yvonne Farrell  (Litt.D.)
Shelley McNamara  (Litt.D.)

Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara co-founded Grafton Architects in 1978. They have received many accolades for their pioneering work and vision, including appointment as the sole curators of the Architectural Biennale in Venice in 2018, ‘the world’s greatest exhibition and celebration of architecture’ (Observer, 29 April 2018). Their University commissions are particularly celebrated including work at the Luigi Bocconi University, Milan, voted ‘World Building of the Year’ by the World Architecture Festival (2008) and at Universidad de Ingenieria y Technologia, Lima, Peru, awarded the inaugural Royal Institute of British Architects International Prize in 2016. Their first University building was at Trinity (the Parsons’ Building) which they have described as an important turning point in their career. Current commissions include buildings for the London School of Economics and Université Toulouse 1. Both Farrell and McNamara have taught in numerous European and American Schools of Architecture, including jointly holding the Kenzo Tange Chair at Harvard Graduate School of Design. They are Fellows of the Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland, Honorary Fellows of the Royal Institute of British Architects and elected members of Aosdána.

Carmel Naughton (Litt.D.)


Carmel Naughton is a pre-eminent advocate of the visual arts on the island of Ireland. Her promotion of academic excellence in Irish Art as well as financial support for a broad range of arts organisations and activities is exemplary. Her contribution has been recognised by numerous organisations including the Royal Irish Academy, who elected her a member in 2006; the Royal Hibernian Academy who awarded their gold medal in 2015 and elected her an honorary member in 2016; and the Prince Charles Medal for services to the Arts in Northern Ireland. Together with her husband Martin, she was named Philanthropist of the Year by the Community Foundation for Ireland in 2016. Serving on the Board of the National Gallery of Ireland from 1991, she was elected Chair (1996 to 2002) where she oversaw the fundraising for, construction and opening of the new millennium wing. Between 2007 and its publication in 2014, she was the driving force behind the first ever comprehensive reference text on Irish art and architecture (Art and Architecture of Ireland), coordinated by the Royal Irish Academy. Her vision was to make the work as widely accessible as possible; every county library was supplied with free copies and it was made available in e-book format to every public library, secondary school and third level institution on the island of Ireland.

Patricia O’Brien (LL.D.)

Patricia O'Brien

Patricia O Brien is a Trinity Law Graduate who served as Under Secretary General and Legal Counsel to the United Nations from 2008 to 2013: a position that is regarded as the most important held by a lawyer in any international organisation. Appointed by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, she advised on all legal issues faced by the Secretary General, the UN Secretariat and the principal and other organs of the United Nations including the upholding and strengthening of the rule of law, the pursuit of justice and the ending of impunity for war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and other serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law. She was the first, and still the only, female UN Legal Counsel, holding one of the highest posts in the United Nations.  In 2013 she returned to Irish Public Service and was appointed Permanent Representative and Ambassador of Ireland to the United Nations and other international organisations in Geneva. She is currently Ireland’s Ambassador to France and Monaco.

Cormac Ó Gráda (Litt D.)

Cormac Ó Gráda, Emeritus Professor of Economics, University College Dublin, has been the outstanding Irish economic historian of the last three decades. In 2010 he was awarded the Royal Irish Academy’s Gold Medal in Humanities, attesting to his outstanding academic achievements and the breadth of his skills. His research interests ranged from eighteenth-century France to nineteenth-century Manhattan to Mao’s Great Leap Forward. As a demographer his profound insights into the Irish Great Famine have broadened to a reinterpretation of famine in global history and to a rethinking of the impact of bubonic plague.   Of Cormac Ó Gráda’s many publications, Black ’47 and Beyond (1999), and Famine: A short history (2009) have received greatest international notice.  His award-winning Jewish Ireland in the Age of Joyce (2006) marked a new departure and displayed his remarkable disciplinary breadth, engaging with a new audience.His international standing continues to be immense and he was recently elected president of the Economic History Association for 2017-18, the first time an Irish-based historian has been so honoured. 

Related Events:

To celebrate The Grafton Architects, Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara’s award of Honorary Doctorates, they delivered a lecture during Trinity Week as follows:

Date:     Wednesday 1 May 2019
Time:     11.00-12.00
Title:      Silence in Architecture
Venue:  Robert Emmet Theatre, Arts Building

To celebrate Cormac Ó Gráda’s award of an Honorary Doctorate,  Professor Ó Gráda attended a private meeting with staff and students in the Trinity Long Room Hub on the morning of Thursday 18 April.

To celebrate David Cabot’s award of an Honorary Doctorate, the Department of Zoology and the Dublin University Zoological Society will organise a celebratory event at the beginning of the next academic year to facilitate student involvement –  date and details to be confirmed.

To celebrate Carmel Naughton’s award of an Honorary Doctorate,  the Department of History of Art and Architecture will host an event at the beginning of the next academic year – date and details to be confirmed.

To celebrate Patricia O’Brien’s award, the Trinity Law School and the Department of Foreign Affairs will organise a public lecture at a time convenient to Ambassador O’Brien’s diary - date and details to be announced in due course.



On Friday 7 December 2018 at 3pm, honorary degrees of the University of Dublin were conferred on Catherine Corless, Thomas Kinsella and Michal Lipson at a Commencements Ceremony in the Public Theatre (Orations PDF)

Catherine Corless (LL.D.)

Catherine Corless Catherine Corless works on her family farm and is a local historian. Her research focussed on an Irish institution, the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, not only shedding light on this institution, but suggesting a general pattern, and acting as an important agent of social change in Ireland. Having been informed that no specific records regarding the institution existed, she requested records of 796 deaths at the Home. The meticulous cross-referencing of records of births, deaths and burials ultimately lead to the uncovering of a mass grave and the shameful history of the institution which could no longer be ignored.  She pursued this work in the face of many obstacles and without the support and infrastructure of an academic institution. Her work is recognised widely as being of special national and social importance, frequently referenced by the current Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone TD. She received the Bar of Ireland Human Rights award in 2017. The awarding of an Honorary Doctorate by the University acknowledges the academic excellence and social importance of Catherine Corless’ work which also stands up for truth and reconciliation in this country.

Thomas Kinsella (Litt.D.)

Thomas Kinsella Thomas Kinsella is widely recognised as a major twentieth-century Irish poet. Described in The Cambridge History of Irish Literature as the author of “the most challenging, most achieved, and therefore most rewarding body of poetry… over the past half-century”, Kinsella’s work is included in all of the major anthologies and critical surveys of Irish poetry in English. While this is undoubtedly a central aspect of his achievement, what makes Kinsella truly exceptional is the contribution he has also made to the understanding of the Irish-language tradition, from his engagements with early Irish in The Táin through to the translations gathered in An Duanaireand, in the New Oxford Book of Irish Verse, his presentation of Ireland's poetry from the beginning, in both languages, with all new translations, the poetry of a shared and painful history, and, in the words of the poet himself “of a dual tradition surviving the extinction of a language”.  Many of his poems are celebrated and loved for their profound personal candour and sensitivity, but he has also been a poet of searing political and public critical insight. As readers of poetry everywhere celebrate his ninetieth birthday in 2018, it is highly fitting, and timely, to recognise this great Dubliner’s achievement.

Michal Lipson (Sc.D.)

Michal Lipson Michal Lipson, an American physicist known for her pioneering work in silicon photonics, is currently the Eugene Higgins Professor of Electrical Engineering and Professor of Applied Physics at Columbia University and was formerly the Given Foundation Professor of Engineering at Cornell University, School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. She works at the interface between physics and electrical engineering and is renowned for enabling optics on a chip for processing and transmitting information with high capacity. She authored over 200 technical papers and over 25 patents on novel micron-size photonic structures for light manipulation, her h-index is 95 and since 2014, she has been named by Thomson Reuters as one of the top 1% most cited physicists. Professor Lipson's honors and awards include the MacArthur Fellow, 2019 IEEE Photonics Award, OSA R. W. Wood Prize, Blavatnik Award, OSA Fellow, IEEE Fellow, IBM Faculty Award, and NSF Early Career Award. She is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the CRANN Nanoscience Research Institute.


Related Events:

1. To celebrate Catherine Corless' award of an honorary doctorate, the Trinity Long Room Hub hosted 'In Conversation' with Catherine Corless interviewed by Professor Aoife Mc Lysaght, our Professor in Genetics

Date: Friday 7 December 2018
Time: 11am - 12:30pm
Venue: Edmund Burke Theatre, Arts Building

The event was streamed live to the Trinity Long Room Hub Facebook page

2. To celebrate Thomas Kinsella’s award of an honorary doctorate, leading poets and scholars joined Thomas Kinsella in a special event hosted entitled  ‘Thomas Kinsella Celebratory Readings’ hosted by the Professor Philip Coleman, School of English and Professor Eoin Mac Cárthaigh, Department of Irish and Celtic Studies

Date:     Tuesday 4 December 2018
Time:     7pm
Venue:  Robert Emmet Theatre, Arts Building


3. To celebrate Michal Lipson’s award of an honorary doctorate, Professor Lipson delivered a lecture hosted by AMBER on the ‘The History and State of Optics on a Chip’

Date:     Thursday 6 December 2018
Time:     2:00pm
Venue   PACCAR Theatre, Science Gallery

Professor Michal Lipson also gave a ‘Masterclass on Navigating a Successful Career in STEM’ hosted by the School of Physics

Date:               Friday 7 December 2018
Time:               10:30am
Venue:            SNIAM Conference Room


Last updated 12 December 2019 by