Maynooth University honours special guests at 21st birthday Summer Soirée

Maynooth University President Prof Philip Nolan with film director Lenny Abrahamson
Saturday, June 16, 2018 - 18:45

Maynooth University celebrated its 21st birthday as an institution by honouring some of Ireland’s leading voices in arts and culture at a gala Summer Soirée and awards ceremony on Saturday, 16 June.

Poet Michael Longley, Prof Philip Nolan, Maynooth University graduate, composer and singer, Eimear Quinn and film director Lenny Abrahamson
The event fells 21 years to the day that the Universities Act was signed, creating Ireland’s newest university—then known as the National University of Ireland, Maynooth—a university independent from St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, whose history dates to 1795.

The highlight of the evening was the presentation of two new sets of inaugural awards: The Maynooth University President’s Medal and the Maynooth University Award for Arts and Culture.

This year’s recipients include: Oscar-nominated Irish film director Lenny Abrahamsom, presented with the 2018 Maynooth University President’s Medal; acclaimed Irish poet Michael Longley and 1996 Eurovision song contest winner and a graduate of Maynooth University, Eimear Quinn, both of whom were presented with the 2018 Maynooth University Award for Arts and Culture.

Director and screenwriter Lenny Abrahamson is well known for his work on critically acclaimed independent films such as Adam & Paul, What Richard Did, and Frank. In 2015, he received widespread praise for his film adaptation of the novel Room, which led to his first Oscar nomination as Best Director.

Born in Belfast, poet Michael Longley, CBE, is recognised as one of Ireland’s foremost poets. With a literary career that spans decades, some of his best-known works, such as ‘Ceasefire’ and ‘Wounds’, offer emotive insights into life during The Troubles, alongside his finely-tuned sensibility to the beauty of the natural world.

Holding an honours degree in music from Maynooth University, Eimear Quinn is one of the most celebrated Irish voices of her generation, fusing a genre of folk and classical, sacred and medieval. She won the Eurovision for Ireland in 1996 with her performance of Brendan Graham’s composition The Voice. Since then, Quinn has collaborated with a number of international composers on a range of projects, and has performed in Australia, America and all over Europe in venues, including The Royal Albert Hall, The Sydney State Theatre and the Vorst National Brussels.

Maynooth University’s Summer Soirée included a full programme of exciting performances and cutting-edge, interdisciplinary installations and lightning talks by Maynooth University lecturers, post-graduate students, and alumni.

President of Maynooth University, Professor Philip Nolan, announced plans for a new arts and cultural centre at Maynooth University, part of the next phase of the rapidly growing university’s campus master plan.

Commenting on the proposed development, Prof Nolan said: “Our plan is to bring a new, much- needed hub for arts and culture to the West-Dublin/North Kildare region. We believe an arts and cultural centre will serve as an integral resource for both traditional academic learning and the learning that students experience through co-curricular activity. The centre also will be an important resource to the wider community and region, providing a space to host everything from musical and theatrical performances to art exhibitions and talks.”

Speaking about the awards Prof Nolan added: “Maynooth University is an institution with a strong reputation for research and teaching in the arts and humanities. The institution has always placed a premium on what literature, film, and music can teach us. Tonight’s awardees reflect that institutional value.

Not only have tonight’s awardees all found extraordinary levels of success on the global stage, but more importantly, they have helped us understand Ireland, and indeed, ourselves, through their artistic endeavours. We are proud to welcome them to campus and recognise their many contributions and achievements.

Today at Maynooth, academics are reimagining how the public engages with the arts, by collaborating with colleagues across the sciences and social sciences to come up with new and innovative ways to understand and think about the world. That’s something we tried to reflect with tonight’s event, the spirit of youth and dynamism of Maynooth University at 21.”

About Maynooth University
On 16 June, 2018, Maynooth University celebrates its 21st birthday, having been formally established as an autonomous university in 1997.

Maynooth University is among the top 100 global universities under 50 years old, in the latest Times Higher Education (THE) Young University Rankings.

Today, Maynooth University is Ireland’s fastest growing university with more than 12,000 students, including almost 1,600 taught postgraduate and professional students and more than 400 research students.