Durcan among four awarded degree

Fri, Dec 11, 2009, 00:00

Poet Paul Durcan and a leading Egyptian scholar, Ismail Serageldin, were among four recipients of honorary degrees at Trinity College Dublin today.

Also honoured were Irish Timeseditor Geraldine Kennedy and Michael Griffith, the founding chairman of the charity Fighting Blindness.

Mr Durcan, who recently published a collection spanning 40 years of his work, was honoured with a Doctor in Letters for his role as one of Ireland's most eminent and original poets, according to the spokeswoman for the college.

"The oral and aural nature of verse lives in the name of Paul Durcan, the inspired minstrel of modern-day Ireland," TCD public orator Prof Anna Chahoud told the ceremony, speaking in Latin.

Prof Chahoud said Mr Durcan was first and foremost a voice and the public readings of his poems were unforgettable. She paid tribute to his humour, "or should I say, unrestrained laughter in the face of a hypocritical world".

Mr Serageldin, who received his parchment from university chancellor Mary Robinson, is director of the Library of Alexandria in Egypt and a leading authority on the role of education and science and technology in promoting developing societies.

Prof Chahoud described him as "a humanist, a scientist, an educator, a leader: a truly Alexandrian scholar".

Ms Kennedy was also conferred with a Doctor in Letters to mark her distinguished career in journalism and the 150th anniversary of The Irish Times. According to Prof Chahoud, Kennedy's "powerful gift" was to analyse facts for the benefit of the community and shape them into comprehensible form. Passion and practice had refined this practice to perfection.

Ms Kennedy did not shy away from direct engagement in politics, the orator continued, and never lost sight of the fundamental pursuit of freedom of speech.

Mr Griffith, who worked for forty years in AIB, founded Fighting Blindness after he was diagnosed with a form of blindness, retinitis pigmentosa.

According to Prof Chahoud, through his work he prompted the study of its genetic factors in TCD and the brilliant discoveries that led to the establishment of a chair of medical genetics.