Pictured at the recent Masterclass for PhD law students, at the Royal Irish Academy, were (Left to right) Sandra Murphy, Silvia Gagliardi, Professor Mary McAleese, Deirdre Halloran, Luke Hamilton and Maria Corbett.
Sep 15 2017 Posted: 12:09 IST

Professor Mary McAleese was the eminent speaker at a recent Masterclass for PhD law students held at the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin. Professor McAleese was President of Ireland from 1997 to 2011 and is currently pursuing a doctorate in Canon Law at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. Her area of research is children's rights in Canon Law.

Five PhD students from National University of Ireland, Galway were among a group of PhD law students from Universities throughout Ireland who attended the Masterclass. Deirdre Halloran, Luke Hamilton, Maria Corbett, Maria Portuondo, Silvia Gagliardi and Sandra Murphy are all currently engaged in individual doctoral projects under the auspices of the School of Law and The Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUIG.

Dr. Deirdre McGowan, Head of Law at DIT, chaired the Masterclass and each of the PhD participants gave a short introduction of themselves and their area of research. There was a wide variety of PhD topics and research interests among the students which gave an insight into the diversity of law PhDs currently being undertaken in university law schools around the country.

Professor McAleese spoke about her career to date. It is a truly exceptional career that has spanned law, journalism, academics, politics and human rights at national and international levels.  Professor McAleese then spoke about her research into Canon Law and told us about the one year of Medieval Latin that she had to master in the first year of her PhD research! As she spoke her passion and conviction for her research topic shone through. Her own experiences of the PhD process and the importance of the project undertaken was truly motivational. Her PhD research is highly significant, focusing on The Holy See and the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. After a fascinating talk Professor McAleese allowed plenty of time for questions and led a discussion of her topic and her research area generally. The afternoon passed quickly and everyone enjoyed Professor McAleese's warmth and generous engagement with us all.

The Masterclass series is an innovative initiative of the Royal Irish Academy which allows the participants sit around a table and engage with a high-profile expert and have a face-to-face discussion, rather than in a lecture theatre format. The objective of the masterclass is to engage and motivate early-career researchers and forge relationships and networks.

Sandra Murphy, IRC PhD candidate, School of Law, NUI Galway.

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