The Royal Irish Academy (RIA) is an independent, all-island learned society established under Charter in 1785. It has approximately 600 Members, chosen for their distinguished contributions to scholarship and research in the sciences, humanities, social sciences and public service. Membership is by election and considered the highest academic honour in Ireland.

The RIA is governed by its President and Council who, in accordance with the founding Charter, are elected by the Members at a general meeting held in the spring of each year.

Learn more about the history of the Academy

A word from the president

It is my privilege to serve as President of the Royal Irish Academy. I wish to thank you for taking the time to explore the Academy website.

The unfortunate arrival of the COVID 19 pandemic has demonstrated that independent scientific and social policy analysis is, more than ever, essential to our national well-being in Ireland. The Academy provides an all-island forum for scholars and researchers in Arts and Sciences to discuss and make available to the general public important research on social, cultural and scientific topics that are relevant for our society today.

We are open to all members of the public and invite you to explore the wide range of discourses, workshops and lectures all of which are available online. We aim to return to live access as soon as we reach compliance with public health guidelines.

Mary Canning, President

Dr Mary Canning, is the 57th President of the Royal Irish Academy


The Royal Charter (1786) sets out the overarching governance structures that remain in place today, while the By-laws provide the rules and regulations under which the Academy operates.

The Academy is run by a Council of its members. Council is responsible to the Academy for its general government and strategic direction and is composed of eleven Members representing the Scientific disciplines and ten representing the Humanities (known as Polite Literature and Antiquities, or PL&A). Leading Council is the President, who is supported by the Officers, Senior Vice-President and Vice-Presidents.

Formal governance committees of Council include the Executive Committee, the Audit & Risk Committee, and the Finance & Investment Committee. The day-to-day management, control and direction of the Royal Irish Academy are the responsibility of the Executive Director and the senior management team (SMT). The Executive Director and the SMT must follow the broad strategic direction set by the Council and, must ensure that all Council members have a clear understanding of the key activities and decisions related to the Royal Irish Academy. The Academy operates under an oversight agreement with the HEA and adheres to the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies (2016).

Learn more about the Academy's organisation structure

A welcome from the Executive Director

Welcome to the website of the Royal Irish Academy (RIA) which provides information about the many and varied activities that the Academy is engaged in as part of its latest Strategic Plan.

The Academy wishes to engage with as wide an audience as possible to share views, create discussion and dialogue, preserve our national cultural heritage, and reward research excellence. As part of this mission we always welcome views from anyone who has engaged with us on any of our activities if you have feedback on the Academy or its activities please email

Dr Tony Gaynor, Executive Director

Dr Tony Gaynor, Executive Director of the Royal Irish Academy

Here you will find information about:

• our Library who preserve a unique collection of medieval Irish manuscripts, national treasures and substantial holdings of later and contemporary materials and make these accessible through digital initiatives where possible. Our oldest manuscript, The Cathach of Colum Cille

• our range of publications that include scholarly books, journals, maps, pamphlets and reports that reflect an appropriate blend of scholarly and topical subjects across the breadth of the sciences, humanities and social sciences

•  our major research projects who play key roles in producing and disseminating new insights into our history and heritage to the world-wide scholarly community and the public through outreach programmes

• our Academy science committees and humanities and social sciences committees who build public engagement and understanding of their disciplines through their events and outputs

• our policy papers that are intended to contribute an independent voice to some of the major public policy challenges on a national and international basis.

• our many events and seminar series that include the Academy's Discourse series and other public activities

• our support of talented early career scholars and researchers throughout Ireland with a programme of grants

• our reward of excellence in research through a programme of awards, and both national prizes and international prizes

Annual review and documents

To learn more about our activities browse our latest Annual Review 2020