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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29 New Members Admitted

22 May 2020

Today Dr Mary Canning, PRIA welcomed our recently elected Members as we held our annual Admittance Day ceremony online

For 235 years new members of the Royal Irish Academy were admitted with a handshake.

Watch the cermony here

This year was different. Today (22 May) at 4p.m., Dr Mary Canning, president of the Academy, admitted 29 new members in a video call. While there were no handshakes there was much smiling for a group of exceptional individuals who are internationally renowned in their respective fields. They include:

  • Janet Browne—a world leading scholar on Charles Darwin
  • Seamus Davis—a pioneer in the physics of quantum materials
  • Fintan O’Toole—winner of the European Press Prize and the Orwell Prize for Journalism
  • Kate Fitzgerald—a world renowned immunologist
  • Deirdre Madden—an internationally renowned bioethicist and deputy chair of the HSE.

Welcoming the newly admitted members, Dr Canning said ‘Ireland should be immensely proud of these women and men who have brought international acclaim to our country. As members of the Royal Irish Academy they will strengthen our capacity to provide the expert advice Ireland needs at this time’. She thanked the many Academy members who had put their expertise at the service of the people of Ireland during the current Covid-19 crisis and announced that ‘an Academy steering group has been established to develop and coordinate the activities of the various Academy committees and members and to maximise the Academy’s convening power across all humanities, social sciences and science disciplines throughout the island of Ireland.’  

In her address she called for the establishment of a multi-disciplinary group of independent scientific advisers under the aegis of the Department of the Taoiseach, to advise government on the formidable scientific challenges facing Ireland, such as Covid-19 and climate change, as Ireland’s office of the Chief Scientific Adviser currently lacks the staff or budget to do the complex job that is now urgently required.

The Irish Government Economic and Evaluation Service (IGEES) was established after the economic crash, to provide ‘integrated cross-government advice’. ‘An equivalent science advisory service is now required for good government’, Dr Canning said and urged political parties engaged in coalition talks to prioritise the establishment of this in any programme for government.

Dr Canning looks forward to the day when she can physically welcome the new members to Academy House.  The 29 members admitted to the Royal Irish Academy today are:


Pavel Baranov (University College Cork); Steven E.J. Bell (Queen’s University Belfast); Marie Cowan (Geological Survey of Northern Ireland); Seamus Davis (University College Cork); Christopher Elliott (Queen’s University Belfast); Robert Forster (Dublin City University); Cecily Kelleher (University College Dublin); Frank McDermott (University College Dublin); Nabeel Agha Riza (University College Cork); Afshin Samali (NUI Galway); and Miles Turner (Dublin City University).

Humanities and Social Sciences

Niamh Brennan (University College Dublin); David Collings (Dublin City University); Enrico Dal Lago (NUI Galway); Paul Michael Garrett (NUI Galway); Margaret Kelleher (University College Dublin); Deirdre Madden (University College Cork); Christopher Marsh (Queen’s University Belfast); Máire Ní Annracháin (University College Dublin); Fintan O’Toole (The Irish Times and Princeton University); Philipp Rosemann (Maynooth University); Karen E. Till (Maynooth University); and Ben Tonra (University College Dublin).

Honorary members

Janet Browne (Harvard University); Kevin Costello (Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics); Katherine Fitzgerald (University of Massachusetts); Christopher Hawkesworth (University of Bristol); David Hempton (Harvard Divinity School); and Thomas JJ O'Loughlin (University of Nottingham - elected in 2017).

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