Development & Alumni Relations Office 

ROYAL IRISH ACADEMY GOLD MEDAL PRESENTED TO QUEEN’S HONORARY GRADUATE IN VIRTUAL CEREMONY  Lanyon Building and (inset) Professor Mary E Daly, Honorary Graduate, and Royal Irish Academy brass letterbox

13 May 2021

Queen’s 2017 Honorary Graduate, Professor Mary E Daly, has been awarded the Royal Irish Academy Gold Medal for her contribution to the Humanities.

One of Ireland’s most prominent senior historians, Professor Daly was presented with the medal at an online event on Wednesday, 12 May.

The Royal Irish Academy (RIA) awards two Gold Medals every year to individuals who have made a demonstrable and internationally recognised outstanding scholarly contribution in their fields. The medals aim to identify and recognise inspirational figures – the stars of the knowledge economy – in order to celebrate the achievements of higher education in Ireland and to inspire future generations.

This year’s other recipient was Professor Daniel Bradley who won the 2020 RIA Gold Medal in the Life Sciences.

Awarding the Gold Medals, RIA President Dr Mary Canning said:

“The Academy Gold Medals celebrate the achievements of leading scholars in Ireland whose work has made an international impact which is evident in these awards this evening. There is exceptional research taking place in higher education in Ireland that impacts positively on all our lives and the Academy hopes that the Gold Medals will inspire future generations of aspiring researchers.

“It is my pleasure to award these medals to two outstanding Members of the Academy, Professor Bradley for his pioneering work in genomics and Professor Daly for her ground-breaking historical work.”

On receiving her Gold Medal, Professor Daly commented:

'It is a great honour to receive the Royal Irish Academy Gold Medal in the Humanities, and the honour has special significance because it has been awarded by fellow scholars. 

“At the risk of sounding pompous I see this medal as recognition of the importance of curiosity-driven research, and the contribution that the humanities can make to the wider society.”

Mary E Daly is Professor Emerita in Irish History at University College Dublin and her extensive publications cover many aspects of the history of Ireland in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Educated at University College Dublin and Nuffield College Oxford, she was awarded an honorary DLitt by Queen’s in 2017. 

Elected the first female President of the Royal Irish Academy in 2014, she is a member of the Expert Advisory Group that advises the Irish government on the commemorative programme for the Decade of Centenaries 2012-23.

Professor Daly currently features in Queen’s University’s podcast series which marks the century of the partitioning of Ireland. Her talk is available at:

Further information on the RIA Gold Medals is available at:

For general enquiries about this story, or to submit graduate news items, please contact Gerry Power, Communications Officer, Development and Alumni Relations Office, Queen's University Belfast. 

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