Royal Irish Academy

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Royal Irish Academy
RIA logo.png
Formation 1785
Founder James Caulfeild, 1st Earl of Charlemont
Headquarters 19 Dawson Street, Dublin 2,
Dublin, Ireland
Michael Peter Kennedy
Building of the Royal Irish Academy
Academy House, headquarters of the Royal Irish Academy

The Royal Irish Academy (RIA; Irish: Acadamh Ríoga na hÉireann), based in Dublin, is an all-Ireland, independent academic body that promotes study and excellence in the sciences, humanities and social sciences. It is one of Ireland's premier learned societies and cultural institutions, and currently has around 501 members including Honorary Members, elected in recognition of their academic achievements. The Academy was established in 1785 and granted a royal charter in 1786.[1]

Until the late 19th century the Royal Irish Academy was also the owner of the main national collection of Irish antiquities. It presented its collection of archaeological artefacts and similar items, which included such famous pieces as the Tara Brooch, the Cross of Cong and the Ardagh Chalice to what is now the National Museum of Ireland, but retains its very significant collection of manuscripts including the famous Cathach of Colmcille, the Book of the Dun Cow (c. 1100), the later medieval Leabhar Breac, the Book of Ballymote, and the Annals of the Four Masters.

Mission statement

The Academy has issued the following mission statement:

The Royal Irish Academy, the academy for the sciences and humanities for the whole of Ireland, will vigorously promote excellence in scholarship, recognise achievements in learning, direct research programmes and undertake its own research projects, particularly in areas relating to Ireland and its heritage.

It will reflect upon, advise on and contribute to, public debate and public policy formation on issues of major interest in science, technology and culture.

It will continue to offer an independent forum to Irish scholars, it will provide a network of support for scholarly disciplines through its network of academy committees, it will maintain and enhance its unique library, it will publish scholarly papers and it will represent the world of Irish learning internationally.[2]


Election to Membership of the Royal Irish Academy is a public recognition of academic excellence and is sometimes held to be the highest academic honour in Ireland. Those elected are entitled to use the designation "MRIA" after their name. The criterion for election to Membership is a significant contribution to scholarly research as shown in the candidate's published academic work. However some of those elected to membership are not academics at all but receive the accolade in recognition of other contributions to society - these include former public servants, philanthropists, leaders in political and business life, and others (see Notable Members below).

To be elected, a candidate has to be proposed and recommended by five Members, and selection is made by a rotating committee of existing Members, their names not made known outside the Academy. Presently, twenty Members are elected each year, equally divided between the sciences and humanities. Membership is open only to those resident in Ireland.

Honorary Membership can be awarded to persons who have made outstanding contribution to their academic discipline, but who are normally resident outside the island of Ireland. At least two existing Members must propose and recommend a candidate for Honorary Membership. Honorary members are entitled to use the designation "Hon. MRIA" after their name.


The Academy is one of the longest-established publishers in Ireland, beginning in 1787. The Academy currently publishes six journals: Ériu, Irish Studies in International Affairs, Mathematical Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy Section C, Irish Journal of Earth Sciences and Biology and Environment . The Academy's research projects also regularly publish the Irish Historic Towns Atlas series, the Documents on Irish Foreign Policy, Foclóir na nua-Ghaeilge, the Dictionary of Medieval Latin from Celtic Sources, and the New Survey of Clare Island. In 2014 the Academy published (in association with Yale University Press) the five-volume Art and Architecture of Ireland.

The Academy is committed to publishing work which not only influences scholarship, but also the wider community, for example Flashes of Brilliance by Dick Ahlstrom, and Judging Dev by Diarmaid Ferriter. Both of these publications have been accompanied by either a television or a radio series.

Academy committees

During the 1950s the Academy began forming national committees, each relating to a specific discipline. Today the main focus of the Academy committees is to serve as a strategic vehicle for the disciplines they represent, and to act as a national forum, providing input into policy, research priorities and issues of public concern, such as climate change. They also organise public outreach activities, such as lectures and public interviews, and award grants for research and travel. The Academy committees are made up of both Members and non-Members, including representatives from universities, research institutions, government agencies and, where appropriate, industry.

Science Committees: Climate Change and Environmental Sciences; Engineering and Computer Sciences; Geosciences and Geographical Sciences; Life and Medical Sciences; Physical, Chemical and Mathematical Sciences

Humanities and Social Sciences Committees: Ethical, Political, Legal and Philosophical Studies; Historical Studies; Social Sciences; Study of Languages, Literature, Culture and Communication; Coiste Léann na Gaeilge, Litríocht na Gaeilge agus na gCultúr Ceilteach

Academy House

Royal Irish Academy building on Dawson Street

In 1852 the Royal Irish Academy moved from 114 Grafton Street to its current premises at 19 Dawson Street, Dublin 2, known as "Academy House".[3] Built in c.1750, the building has some fine decorative plasterwork and a handsome meeting room designed in 1854 by Frederick Clarendon and now used for conferences, exhibitions and public talks. Academy House was home to many of Ireland's finest national treasures, including the Ardagh Chalice and the Tara Brooch, until 1890 when the Academy transferred its collections to the newly established National Museum of Ireland.[4]

The Academy Library holds the largest collection of Old Irish manuscripts in the world.[3] It is an important research centre for studies covering Irish history, language, archaeology and the history of Irish science. The Library is home to the sixth-century Latin psalter, the Cathach, reputedly copied by St Columcille.[5] The Library also holds the personal library of Thomas Moore and the philological collection of Osborn J. Bergin.

See also Category:Royal Irish Academy Library

Research projects

The Academy manages a number of high-profile research projects in the sciences and humanities. Past projects have included The Digital Humanities Observatory (DHO), New Survey of Clare Island(NSCI) and The Origins of the Irish Constitution (OIC).

Current projects

  • Dictionary of Irish Biography (DIB)
  • Dictionary of Medieval Latin from Celtic Sources (DMLCS)
  • Documents on Irish Foreign Policy (DIFP)
  • Foclóir na nua-Ghaeilge (Dictionary of Modern Irish)
  • Irish Historic Towns Atlas (IHTA)
  • Taisclann Dhigiteach na hÉireann (Digital Repository of Ireland)


The President and Council are responsible for the Academy's general government and regulation. They are elected annually at the Stated Meeting on 16 March. The President normally serves a three-year term of office. The membership of Council is drawn from the Sciences and Humanities sections. Council formulates policies, and recommends candidates for membership.

The Executive Committee supports the Council in supervising the day-to-day business of the Academy. The members of the Executive Committee are the President, Senior Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, Secretaries of Science and PL&A (Polite Literature & Antiquities, i.e. Humanities), Executive Secretary, Secretary for International Relations, and a staff representative.

The Royal Irish Academy became a prescribed body under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 1997 and the Freedom of Information Act (Amendment) 2003, on 31 May 2006.[6]

Current and past presidents

Awarded of the Royal Irish Academy

The premier award of the Royal Irish Academy is Cunningham Medal, which it awards every three years in recognition of "outstanding contributions to scholarship and the objectives of the Academy". Other awards include the Gold Medal which is awarded to two people each year who "made a demonstrable and internationally recognised outstanding scholarly contribution in their fields".[42]

Each year, up to 24 people are elected Members of the Royal Irish Academy (MRIA). Additionally, a number of Honorary Members are elected: these are individuals who have "made a major international contribution to their disciplines but who are not normally resident in Ireland".[43]

Notable members

See also


  1. ^ Harbison, Peter (2003). "Royal Irish Academy", in Lalor, Brian (ed) Encyclopaedia of Ireland, Dublin: Gill & Macmillan, pp 948–949.
  2. ^ "Mission statement". Royal Irish Academy. Retrieved 14 September 2013.
  3. ^ a b Raifeartaigh, T.O. (1985). The Royal Irish Academy: A bicentennial history 1785–1985. Dublin: Royal Irish Academy.
  4. ^ [1] Archived 3 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Jones, Mary. "An Cathach". Jones's Celtic Encyclopedia. Archived from the original on 12 February 2011. Retrieved 18 November 2011.
  6. ^ [2] Archived 16 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ a b "RIA Elects first Woman President in 229 years". Royal Irish Academy. Archived from the original on 14 January 2015. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
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  12. ^ "Academy Gold Medallists 2011". RIA. Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  13. ^ "Profile – Issue 24, Sep 2005-Professor James Dooge FREng". Ingenia Online. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
  14. ^ "George Huxley Papers-SERIES V. Newspaper Clippings". The American School of Classical Studies at Athens. Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  15. ^ "The Learned Tales of Medieval Ireland [Hardcover]". Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  16. ^ "George Francis (Frank) Mitchell (1912–1997)". Ask about Ireland. Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  17. ^ "Irishman who discovered cure for leprosy honoured". Archived from the original on 29 November 2011. Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  18. ^ "John Lighton Synge". Retrieved 6 August 2013.
  19. ^ "Thomas Percy Claude Kirkpatrick Archive" (PDF). Royal College of Physicians of Ireland. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 January 2015. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
  20. ^ Robert Lloyd Praeger (October 2000). "The Life of a Naturalist by Sean Lysaght". Biology and Environment: Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy. Royal Irish Academy. 100B: 70–74. Retrieved 2015-05-22.
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  22. ^ "Praeger, Robert Lloyd (Ireland 1865–1953)". Retrieved 6 August 2013.
  23. ^ "Professor R.A.S. Macalister (1870–1950) Professor of Celtic Archaeology (1909–1943)". University College,Dublin. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
  24. ^ O'Day, Alan. Irish Home Rule, 1867–1921. p. Glossary xii. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  25. ^ O'Day, Alan. Irish Home Rule, 1867–1921. p. Glossary xxvi. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  26. ^ "Parsons, Laurence". Oxford DNB. Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  27. ^ "John Kells Ingram (1823 - 1907): Academic and economist". Dictionary of Ulster Biography. Retrieved 1 November 2014.
  28. ^ "John O'Donovan/William Reeves correspondence". UCD Digital Library. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
  29. ^ "Charles O'Shaughnessy's rebuttal of Darwin". Retrieved 7 August 2013.
  30. ^ "Stokes,William". Oxford DNB. Retrieved 6 August 2013.
  31. ^ "Jellett, John Hewitt". Ask about Ireland. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
  32. ^ Address of Lord Talbot de Malahide on His Inauguration as President of the ... - James Talbot Baron Talbot de Malahide - Google Books. Retrieved 2015-05-22.
  33. ^ Wikisource:Graves, Charles (DNB01)
  34. ^ "James Henthorn Todd by G.O.Simms" (PDF). JSTOR. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
  35. ^ "Thomas Romney Robinson (1793–1882)". Ask about Ireland. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
  36. ^ "Humphrey Lloyd-1867 – 1881 (c. 1800–81)". Trinity College, Dublin. Retrieved 6 August 2013.
  37. ^ a b "Royal Irsh Academy". Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  38. ^ "Bartholomew Lloyd-1831 – 1837 (c. 1772–1837)". Trinity College Dublin. Retrieved 6 August 2013.
  39. ^ "John Brinkley ~ the Astronomer Bishop". Retrieved 6 August 2013.
  40. ^ "British Armorial Bindings". Retrieved 6 August 2013.
  41. ^ "Science at the Royal Irish Academy: 'Uniting whatever is pleasing with whatever is useful' Exhibition". The Heritage Council. Retrieved 6 August 2013. [permanent dead link]
  42. ^ "Prizes and Awards". Royal Irrish Academy. Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  43. ^ "Becoming a Member". Royal Irrish Academy. Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  44. ^ "James Dooge (1922–2010)". 8 August 2010. Retrieved 18 November 2011.
  45. ^ "Biography of Gearóid Mac Eoin". Retrieved 2015-05-22.
  46. ^ "In Memoriam – Timothy Trevor West" (PDF). Dublin University Central Athletic Club. Retrieved 28 October 2013.

External links

  • Official website
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