NUIG degrees for Maureen Dowd and Sebastian Barry
PLAYWRIGHT AND novelist Sebastian Barry, Canadian finance minister James Flaherty and New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd have been awarded honorary degrees by NUI Galway (NUIG).
Coca-Cola company executive vice-president Irial Finan was also honoured by the university yesterday, with all four having made an “outstanding and distinctive contribution” in their respective fields, according to NUIG president Dr Jim Browne.
Barry has been shortlisted several times for the Man Booker prize and has won the Costa Book of the Year award, the Independent Booksellers’ Prize, and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, among others.
He is the author of 12 plays. His most recent novel, On Canaan’s Side, was also longlisted for the Man Booker prize and shortlisted for the Walter Scott Prize, the Irish Book Awards and the Galaxy International Author of the Year.
Dowd won the Pulitzer Prize in 1999, among other awards, for her “unsparing columns on the hypocrisies involved in the Lewinsky affair and the effort to impeach President Clinton”, NUIG notes.
The New York Times columnist and author of two bestselling books has Mayo and Clare roots, and participated in a public interview earlier this week with fellow Irish-American journalist Niall O’Dowd at the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life, just outside Castlebar.
She previously served as a correspondent in the newspaper’s Washington bureau, having begun her career in 1974 as an editorial assistant for the Washington Star, where she later became a sports columnist, metropolitan reporter, and feature writer.
Mr Finan, a commerce graduate of NUIG, has more than 29 years of experience in Coca-Cola. His directorships include the Smurfit Kappa Group and the American Ireland Fund. He is a non-executive director for Co-operation Ireland and NUIG’s Foundation.
Mr Flaherty is a lawyer and a third-term member of parliament for Whitby-Oshawa (Ontario). He is a governor of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
He was recently awarded Euromoney magazine’s Finance Minister of the Year award and has been described as a “pillar” in both the G7 and the G20.
Mr Flaherty praised the policies pursued by the Irish Government. At a conference on the financial crisis at NUIG on Thursday, he spoke of the need for the euro zone countries to “overwhelm” the current difficulties. The conference was also attended by Minister for Finance Michael Noonan.
The four join a list of NUIG honorary alumni which includes former president of South Africa Nelson Mandela, US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, golfers Christy O’Connor snr and jnr, singer Enya, actors Anjelica Huston and Fionnula Flanagan, and writer Margaret Atwood.