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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Women on Walls

Women on Walls is a campaign by Accenture in partnership with the Royal Irish Academy, that seeks to make women leaders visible through a series of commissioned portraits, creating a lasting cultural legacy for Ireland in 2016.

Come see the artworks:

The finished artworks are now on permanent display at the Royal Irish Academy. All members of the public are welcome to visit us to view the five new painted portraits.

Four of these portraits, painted by artist Vera Klute, depict the first female Members of the Royal Irish Academy, elected in 1949. The fifth is a group portrait of eight contemporary female scientists; recipients of European Research Council Starter Grants (2012 – 2015). This was painted by artist Blaise Smith. The eight scientists have been chosen as representatives of outstanding female scientists working in Ireland today.

Blaise Smith on his group portrait:

'A group portrait is always interesting because you have to capture the individuals and their personalities but also make the painting of the group work. 

The fact that they are all eminent women scientists provides an opportunity to mark the positive change that has happened in society over the last hundred years. It really is a landmark painting about our life and times, a painting which I confidently expect to last at least 500 years and as the painter chosen to do it, I feel privileged to be given this responsibility'.

Vera Klute on the first women elected as members of the Academy in 1949:

'Each of the women have strong personalities and also very distinct features, which makes this project artistically interesting for me. It is a challenge to create a good likeness from very limited photographic material, but I hope that I can do justice to each of these extraordinary academic and scientific leaders'.

Laura Mahoney, Chief Executive RIA:

'The Academy wants to create role models to inspire our future generations. The people of Ireland should know of, and be proud of the twelve extraordinary women whose portraits will hang on the walls of Academy House for years to come. We hope that people will come into Academy house to see these portraits and find out about these women and their work.'

About the paintings:

The five portraits consist of four individual portraits of the first four female Members of the Royal Irish Academy, elected in 1949 who were pioneers in their respective fields which included mathematical physics, Irish art history, plant viruses and classical Irish literature.   Vera Klute was the chosen artist for the four works of art.

The fifth portrait is a group portrait of eight female scientists, who are recipients of the European Research Council Starter Grants 2012 – 2015 and have been chosen as representatives of a generation of outstanding young female scientists working in Ireland today. Their areas of expertise include light and solar panels, genetics, human aging, immunology and bio medical engineering among others.  Blaise Smith was the artist who worked with the eight women to produce the portrait.

Who are the subjects: First women elected as members of the RIA in 1949

Sheila Tinney (1918 – 2010)
A pioneering academic in mathematical physics, Sheila Tinney was described by Nobel Laureate Erwin Schrödinger as ‘among the best equipped and most successful of the younger generation of physicists in this country’.

Françoise Henry (1902 – 1982)
Françoise Henry was one of the most important twentieth-century historians of Irish art. She trained at the École du Louvre and the Sorbonne, establishing herself as an expert on very early forms of sculptural decoration, particularly in Early Christian Irish Art.

Phyllis Clinch (1901 – 1984)
Award winning scientist Phyllis Clinch, was one of the greatest female inventors of her generation and world renowned for her innovative research into plant viruses.

Eleanor Knott (1886-1975)
Eleanor Knott was a "pathbreaking" researcher of classical Irish literature. Having taught herself to read modern Irish, she went on to study old Irish at the School of Irish Learning in Dublin and won a scholarship to continue her studies in 1907.

Group Portrait: Recipients of the European Research Council Starter Grants 2012 – 2015

Professor Sarah McCormack (TCD)

Professor McCormack’s research explores photovoltaic panels which convert solar energy into direct current electricity.

Professor Aoife McLysaght (TCD)

Professor McLysaght is one of Ireland’s leading geneticists and was on the team that analysed the initial sequence of the human genome in 2001. She was also involved in a major discovery about how genes are formed.

Dr Aoife Gowen (UCD)

Dr Gowen investigates how contact with water contributes to fouling or degradation of various synthetic materials, including medical sutures, pacemakers and water filters.

Professor Lydia Lynch (Harvard Medical School moving to TCD)

Professor Lynch’s research has found that a type of anti-tumour immune cell protects against obesity and the metabolic syndrome that leads to diabetes.

Professor Debra Laefer (UCD)

Professor Laefer’s research aims to prevent damage to buildings above tunnel excavation, by developing a 3D modelling system that can predict what buildings are most likely to sustain damage during tunnelling.

Professor Emma Teeling (UCD)

Professor Teeling is a world authority on bat genetics. She studies bats for insights into human diseases such as blindness and deafness as well as aging.

Dr Maria McNamara (UCC)

Dr McNamara is a world expert on the fossilization of colour in animals and has conducted ground-breaking work on the evolution of feathers in dinosaurs.

Professor Caitríona Lally (TCD)

Professor Lally is the principal investigator on a project focusing on developing a means of early diagnosis of degenerative cardiovascular diseases. These studies are highly relevant to stroke patients and those with vascular disease.

Let us know what you think of the campaign by getting in touch on twitter @RIAdawson and @Accenture_Irl. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #WomenonWalls

Visit the Accenture website here to find out more about the campaign. 

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