President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins presented the 2018 Presidential Distinguished Service Awards for the Irish Abroad on Thursday, November 29.
Pulitzer Prize-winning author William Kennedy and novelist Edna O’Brien (pictured above with the President), are this year’s award winners in the Arts, Culture, and Sport category. In the field of Business and Education, the awards were given to retiring Quinnipiac University President Dr. John L. Lahey and University of Sao Paulo Professor Munira Hamud Mutran. Palestine-based humanitarian Sr. Bridget Tighe was awarded in the Charitable Works category. The late Tom Power from Australia, Edward J. Ward from the U.S., and Breege McDaid from Britain were presented with the award for their contributions to Irish Community Support. In the Peace, Reconciliation, and Development category, the award was presented to Sr. Mary Killeen of Kenya. Finally, Limerick-born University of Colorado Professor Margaret Murnane, one of the leading optical physicists of her generation, was given the award in the fields of science, technology, and innovation.
Created in 2011, the awards are presented by the president every year in recognition of the service given to this country, or to Irish communities abroad, by those who live outside Ireland. Over the last six years, the president has presented the awards to 61 remarkable recipients, including both of our own co-founders, Niall O’Dowd and Patricia Harty. The recipients were nominated by Irish diplomats and by members of the public.
Throughout his term, President Higgins has emphasized the global nature of Ireland’s cultural heritage, the significance of the diaspora and the common history and identity we share “despite the borders, oceans, and miles that may separate us.” ♦ Maggie Holland