Appreciation for Dr. Sinead McGrath

It is with deep sadness that I write this message on the death of our colleague, Dr. Sinead McGrath. May she rest in peace. As some will know, Sinead was diagnosed with cancer in the last months of 2021 and passed away peacefully on the 20th January 2022, only weeks after graduating with her PhD from UCD. She was a valued colleague and mentor to students, an excellent teacher and researcher, and a lovely person. We will really miss her. 

Sinead was deeply committed to human rights and justice and worked in the areas of humanitarianism and migrant rights for many years. She travelled extensively, working in a range of countries, and she spoke many languages fluently. This competency in language and global focus gave her a platform for her working and academic life. She was the Irish Research Council employment-based scholar with the Kimmage Development Studies Centre before its transition to Maynooth University in 2018. Since then, she has made an incredible contribution to the new Department of International Development at Maynooth, specialising in teaching conflict, development and human rights as an occasional lecturer, while she worked on and successfully completed her doctorate. She was an outstanding facilitator, who was thoroughly committed to her students, creative and conscientious in her teaching, and remarkably forward thinking in everything she did.

Her doctoral research focused on international migration organisations and their roles in relation to internally displaced women in the context of post-conflict transitional justice in Columbia. It offered significant insight for understandings of refugee discourses and interventions, especially highlighting the importance of recognising women's agency and the need for humanitarianism to be refugee-led. She presented on this important work at our department's research seminar in October last, even when she wasn't feeling well, and the breadth and depth of her analysis of the complex dynamics of conflict-related internal displacement, gender and rights activism in Columbia was breath-taking. Sinead worked so hard on her research over the past six years or so and offered so much. Above all, she was generous and unassuming. Given more time, I have no doubt that she would have become an even more influential and leading contributor to scholarship, teaching and activism on migration and global human rights. I had hoped that she would be able to work even more with us at the department next year, so impressed was I by her ability and dedication to students, to learning and to meaningful humanitarianism which puts those affected at the heart of decision-making.

It was a privilege to work with and to know Sinead, an enthusiastic educator who was loved by her students and co-workers. I was inspired by her passion for life, by her determination to put students’ needs first and by her care for others. Our department has lost a marvellous colleague, a truly gifted teacher and a good friend.

On behalf of all of us at the Department - staff and Sinead's current and former students - I would like to extend my thanks to her and my deepest sympathy to her family and friends on their incredible loss. May she rest in peace.   

Dr. Eilish Dillon, Head of Department.