Brian O'Driscoll was presented with an honorary doctorate at Trinity College Dublin on Friday for his "herculean" feats on the rugby pitch.
The most capped Irish player, and the country’s highest ever try scorer, was among five people honoured during the ceremony.
Other recipients included journalist and broadcaster Olivia O'Leary, Caitríona Crowe of the National Archives of Ireland, Gero Miesenböck, director of the Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour at the University of Oxford, and George Miley, emeritus professor of astronomy at Leiden University.
They received the university's highest honour from its chancellor, Mary Robinson, at a ceremony in the Public Theatre.
Praising Mr O'Driscoll, Prof Anna Chahoud noted his feats on the sports field had been described as herculean, sensational and world-class.
“If you ask how he did all that he did, I will reply with the words of a special fan: ‘he assaults the impossible in a quest to reach the upper slopes of human endeavour’,” she said.
Mr O’Driscoll was the second most capped in rugby union history. He played 141 test matches, scoring 46 tries for Ireland.
Ms O'Leary, who wrote for The Irish Times as well as presenting several television programmes, was described as "one of the most formidable reporters in political journalism".