NUI Galway Professor Elected President of Royal Irish Academy

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

NUI Galway's Vice-President for Research, Professor Nicholas Canny, has been elected the 53rd President of the Royal Irish Academy. The Royal Irish Academy was founded by royal charter in 1785 as Ireland's academy for the sciences and the humanities. Not since the 4th Earl of Rosse was elected in 1896 has the Royal Irish Academy elected a President based outside of Dublin. At NUI Galway, Professor Canny is also a Professor of History and Director of the University's Moore Institute for Research in the Humanities and Social Studies. Commenting on the appointment, NUI Galway President, Professor Jim Browne, said, "The election of Professor Canny is a great personal honour and brings great lustre and prestige to the Moore Institute, to the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies and to NUI Galway. I have no doubt but that he will be an excellent leader of the Academy in these important times for research and scholarship in Ireland". On his election, Professor Canny said, "The decision by the Members of the Academy to look outside Dublin for a President represents a fresh determination of the Academy to assert itself as a body committed to preserving the cultural and environmental heritage of all parts of the island of Ireland". Professor Canny added that he was elected, "To continue the outstanding work of his predecessor, Professor Jim Slevin, in upholding academic excellence in all fields, in advocating the promotion of a better research environment in Ireland, and in seeing that the Royal Irish Academy meets its obligations towards its own research projects, and identifies and negotiates funding for new undertakings in science as well as in the humanities and social sciences". Professor Canny was educated at University College Galway (now NUI Galway), the University of London and the University of Pennsylvania, and is a leading authority on early modern history. His many books and articles have dealt with developments in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and include The Oxford History of the British Empire Vol. 1: The Origins of Empire (1998) and Making Ireland British, 1580-1650 (2001). He was awarded the Irish Historical Research Prize for published work in 1976 and 2003. His current academic commitment is to Atlantic History in general and more particularly to comparing French with English writing on the Natural History of the Atlantic World from 1550 to 1720. Internationally well known as a scholar, Nicholas Canny is the only Irish person to share with Séamus Heaney the distinction of being both a Fellow of the British Academy and a Member of the American Philosophical Society. Professor Canny is not the first Galway scholar to be elected President of the Royal Irish Academy. That distinction goes to Cloughballymore scientist, Richard Kirwan (1733-1812) who was elected President in 1799. Kirwan, who lived in Cregg Castle, is renowned for his study of meteorology and in particular for producing a chart showing the temperature of every latitude between the Equator and the Poles.
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