The Royal Irish Academy/Acadamh Ríoga na hÉireann champions research. We identify and recognise Ireland’s world class researchers. We support scholarship and promote awareness of how science and the humanities enrich our lives and benefit society. We believe that good research needs to be promoted, sustained and communicated. The Academy is run by a Council of its members. Membership is by election and considered the highest academic honour in Ireland.

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Michel Déon Prize winners event in Paris

05 December 2023

On the evening of 28 November at the Irish Embassy in Paris, RIA Michel Déon Prize winners Conor O’Clery (2020) and Sally Hayden (2022) participated in a conversation facilitated by Michael Cronin MRIA. Amongst the audience was the Irish Ambassador to France, H.E. Niall Burgess, delegations from the Académie Française and RIA, Michel Déon’s daughter Alice, colleagues, friends and family.

Conor O’Clery won the 2020 Royal Irish Academy Michel Déon Prize for non-fiction for his book The Shoemaker and his Daughter which is an epic story of one ordinary family, spanning the Second World War to the fall of the Soviet Union, taking in eighty years of Soviet and Russian history, from Stalin to Putin. Sally Hayden was awarded the 2022 Royal Irish Academy Michel Déon Prize for her debut book My Fourth Time, We Drowned which is a staggering investigation into the migrant crisis across North Africa. 

In a captivating fireside chat facilitated by Chair of the Royal Irish Academy’s Michel Déon judging committee Professor Michael Cronin, Hayden and O’Clery discussed their winning publications, touching on common themes of trauma, dignity, agency and connectivity.

Members of the Royal Irish Academy and Académie française together with Conor O'Clery, Sally Hayden, Alice Déon and Irish Ambassador Niall Burgess


Conor O'Clery, Professor Michael Cronin and Sally Hayden

The Michel Déon Prize was founded in 2018 in memory of the French writer Michel Déon (1919-2016) who made the West of Ireland his home. It is a joint prize awarded in alternate years by the Royal Irish Academy in Ireland (funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs) and the Académie française in France. The winning author received a prize of €10,000 and the honour of visiting France or Ireland respectively to deliver the Michel Déon Lecture the following year.

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