Dr Conroy has been honoured with the Grand Prix de la Francophonie de L'Académie Française for her research into intercultural interactions, real and imaginary, between France and other countries, especially Ireland and Britain.
This is the first time since its foundation in 1986 that the award, worth €22,500, has been awarded to someone from Ireland, the UK or the US.
Dr Conroy was nominated by the French academician Michel Déon, who lives in Galway and was impressed by her pioneering work on 17th century French theatre and literature, written by French travellers to Ireland between the 17th and 19th centuries.
During the 17th century, many French plays were set in the UK, a fact that went largely unnoticed until Dr Conroy wrote and published her book in French Tragic Lands: England and Scotland in 17th Century French Tragedy (Gunter Naar, 1999). This award recognises that and other publications by Dr Conroy in French.
A native of Rosmuc, Connemara, Dr Conroy is humanities secretary for the Royal Irish Academy and is one of a team of editors of the Irish Journal of French Studies. She will receive her award in a special ceremony at the Institute de France in Paris in December.
Dr Conroy is currently in Paris where she is preparing an edition of the 18th century manuscript travel diaries of Charles-Etienne Coquebert de Montbret, written during his time as French consul in Dublin during the reign of Louis XVI. The document will be published in French by the Irish Manuscript Commission but an English version will be made available to university libraries by Dr Conroy.
Several of Dr Conroy's colleagues from the Department of French are also spending the summer in Paris where they are conducting research of a very high standard. The relationship with NUI Galway and several of the most respected French institutions in this regard reflects the quality of the research work and the affinity between the two countries.