Ailbhe Smyth awarded NUI Galway 2021 Honorary Degree

Ailbhe Smyth is being honoured by NUI Galway for her as an academic and human rights activist, particularly her focus on LGBTQ+and women's rights advocacy.

Ailbhe Smyth NUI Galway
Image: Hazel Coonagh

Ailbhe Smyth is among 14 individuals who will be conferred with Honorary Degrees by NUI Galway in 2021. Others included in NUI Galway’s 2021 Honorary Conferring span the world of arts, media, academia, healthcare and business.

Involved in radical politics in Ireland for over four decades, the indomitable Smyth was a spokeswoman and convenor for the Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment. She is also a founding member of Marriage Equality, convenor of Feminist Open Forum, an organiser for Action for Choice, a board member of Equality and Rights Alliance and is the former Chair of the National LGBT Federation. As if all that wasn’t enough, Smyth also received the ‘Lifetime Achievement’ award at the Galas 2015, Ireland’s LGBTQ+ Awards Ceremony.

NXF Board Member and NUIG Lecturer Dr Chris Noone shared his congratulations with Ailbhe writing:

“I’m delighted that NUI Galway has awarded an honorary PhD to Ailbhe Smyth! Such deserved recognition. It’s 2 years in a row that women from our community have been honoured this way for their activism, after Nuala Ward. I had the honour of interviewing Ailbhe here last December.”

Ailbhe said that she is both honoured and delighted to be part of NUI Galway’s 2021 Honorary Conferring:

“Honoured and absolutely delighted to be included in ⁦NUI Galway 2021 honorary degree list and so looking forward to the conferring! Thank you.”

Speaking about the conferrals, President of NUI Galway Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said: “NUI Galway is fortunate to be associated with many outstanding honorary graduates throughout its history and those being honoured this year form a particularly distinguished group.

“Each one has made an excellent and distinctive contribution to public life, the betterment of society and the interests of humanity.

“NUI Galway is very pleased to be in a position to respect and recognise these exceptional individuals. Each of those we honour also have a special bond with our region – drawing on the unique experiences, strengths and challenges with which we as a University also engage – our values of Respect, Openness, Sustainability, and Excellence; our profile on human rights, and our emphasis on excellence, creativity and innovation. In honouring these exceptional individuals, we also signal what we value in areas that matter to us and to our society.”

The University aims to hold the Honorary Conferring ceremony next summer in line with public health guidelines.

A portrait of Ailbhe aptly titled ‘Trailblazer’ by Sarah Bracken Soper won the ‘Highly Commended’ award in the Zurich Portrait Prize 2020 which will be exhibited at the National Gallery of Ireland until 21 March 2021. The exhibition will then travel to the National Gallery’s partner venue, Crawford Art Gallery, Cork, where it will be displayed from 17 April to 11 July 2021.

‘Trailblazer’ is the second in a series of embroidered portraits of powerful Irish women, using a medium once associated with keeping women busy in the home.

© 2020 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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