Election to membership of the Royal Irish Academy is a public recognition of academic excellence. It is the highest academic honour in Ireland and is open only to those resident in the Republic of Ireland or in Northern Ireland. Those elected are entitled to use the designation ‘MRIA’ after their name.
Election of Members
The criterion for election to membership is a significant contribution to scholarly research as shown in the candidate’s published academic work. Approximately twenty new ordinary Members are elected each year (equally divided between the sciences and the humanities and social sciences). Candidates must be proposed and recommended by five Members. Elections take place on 16 March each year after a rigorous, peer-reviewed selection procedure.
Members assist the Academy in its work by providing expert advice for its Council and committees, by representing the Academy nationally and internationally, and by promoting the strategic mission of the Academy.
Among the membership of the Academy are many of Ireland’s leading scholars, the best known of whom include: Seamus Heaney, Nobel Laureate; Joe Lee, historian; Seamus Dunne, literary scholar; Patrick Honohan, economist; Michael Laver, political scientist; Dermot Gleeson, barrister and Attorney General 1994-7; Anngret Simms, geographer; Richard Kearney, philosopher; Peter Sutherland, lawyer and banker; Noel Dorr, former diplomat; Geraldine Kennedy, journalist; Patrick Cunningham, geneticist; Mary Robinson, President of Ireland 1990-7; Mary McAleese, President of Ireland.
Other well-known Members of the Academy have included: W.B. Yeats, poet; James Gandon, architect; Henry Grattan, politician; William Rowan Hamilton, world-renowned mathematician; Francis Beaufort, hydrographer and originator of the Beaufort Wind Scale; Eoin MacNeill, politician and historian; Ernest Walton, winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics (1951); William Wilde, polymath and father of playwright, Oscar; Walter Heitler, physicist; Frank Mitchell, natural historian; William Hunter McCrea, astronomer; Seán Lemass, Taoiseach 1959-66; Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh, Attorney General 1946-8, 1951-3 and President of Ireland 1974-6; Frederick Boland, diplomat; J.P. Beddy, public servant; Arthur Cox, solicitor; F.S.L. Lyons, historian; Michael Morris, 3rd Baron Killanin and President of the International Olympic Committee 1972-80; Éamon de Valera, Taoiseach 1932-48; 1951-4; 1957-9 and President of Ireland 1959-73; Garret FitzGerald, Taoiseach 1981-2, 1982-7.
Honorary Membership of the Royal Irish Academy
Honorary Membership of the Royal Irish Academy is awarded to persons who have made major contributions to their academic discipline, but who are normally resident outside the island of Ireland. A candidate for Honorary Membership must be proposed and recommended by at least two Academy Members. Proposals for Honorary Membership are peer-reviewed and considered for election on 16 March each year. Honorary Members of the Academy are entitled to use the letters ‘Hon. MRIA’ after their name.
Honorary Members of the Academy include:
Andrew Huxley, Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine (1963); Francis Crick, Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine (1962); Robert M. Solow, Nobel Prize for Economics (1987); Michael F. Atiyah, Fields Medal Winner (1966); Quentin Skinner, recipient of the biennial Benjamin E. Lippincott Award; Alasdair McIntyre, leading philosopher and ethicist; Cathleen Synge Morawetz, mathematician, Outstanding Woman Scientists for 1993’ Murray Gell-Mann, Nobel Prize for Physics (1969); Onora O’Neill, philosopher.
Other Honorary Members of the Academy have included:
Edmund Burke (1790); Johann van Goethe (1825); Mary Somerville (1834); Caroline Herschel (1837); Maria Edgeworth (1842); Thomas Moore (1846); William Wordsworth (1846); Charles Darwin (1866); Henry Longfellow (1873); Louis Pasteur (1878); William Kelvin (1878); Joseph Lister (1886); Dmitry Mendeléyev (1889); Jacobus Henricus Van’t Hoff, Nobel Prize for Chemistry (1901); Ivan Pavlov, Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine (1904); Ernest Rutherford, Nobel Prize for Chemistry (1908); Johannes Diderik van der Waals, Nobel Prize for Physics (1910); Richard Willstätter, Nobel Prize for Chemistry (1915); Max Planck, Nobel Prize for Physics (1918); Albert Einstein, Nobel Prize for Physics (1921); Niels Bohr, Nobel Prize for Physics (1922); Werner Heisenberg, Nobel Prize for Physics (1932); Erwin Schrödinger, Nobel Prize for Physics (1933); Enrico Fermi, Nobel Prize for Physics (1938); Max Born, Nobel Prize for Physics (1954); Melvin Calvin, Nobel Prize for Chemistry (1961); Alan Hodgkin, Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine (1963); Dorothy Hodgkin, Nobel Prize for Chemistry (1964).