Congratulations to George Cunningham
Books and music formed the backdrop to the University of Limerick (UL) Honorary Conferrings today, (October 10) as historian and author George Cunningham and Irish Chamber Orchestra (ICO) Chairman Michael Buckley were conferred Honorary Doctorates of Letters at University of Limerick.
UL President, Dr Des Fitzgerald said: “The bestowing of a UL honorary doctorate represents the opportunity to honour those who have inspired, and worked tirelessly to make great contributions in their fields of endeavour. Today, we honour two such men who have made unique and powerful contributions to history and the arts in this country.”
“George Cunningham has spent his life preserving and creating books, he fosters a love for literature in everyone around him. His contribution to preserving local history in Tipperary and Clare is immeasurable. Michael Buckley has deployed the experience of a distinguished career in public and private sectors to benefit a range of national initiatives in particular the development of the ICO with its vision of artistic excellence coupled with social transformation.”
In addition to publishing more than 100 books and articles, George Cunningham has collected over 25,000 volumes but has given away more than three times that to schools and other institutions. Recipients of his books include Coláiste Phobal Ros Cré, the Tipperary, Offaly and Laois library services and University of Limerick’s Glucksman Library.
Born in Roscrea in 1940, George Cunningham was awarded a secondary scholarship to St Flannan’s College in Ennis, County Clare. George then went on to graduate from St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra as a primary school teacher in 1961.
George played a major role in the establishment of the annual Burren Spring Conference in 1991. Two years later, he contributed to the founding of the Burren College of Art in Ballyvaughan.
George went on to successfully lead a campaign for the preservation of Damer House, a Queen Anne townhouse built within Roscrea Castle in 1720, before opening it to the public as a national monument. Following this, George spearheaded many restoration projects including the Damer House Annex and Roscrea’s round tower.
George retired from teaching in 1987, and in the same year he founded the Roscrea medieval conferences, which brought together national and international scholars to present on learned aspects of Early Christian Ireland and the later Middle Ages.
George served on the UL Governing Authority from 1992 to 2009 and fulfilled the role of deputy chairperson from 2003 to 2007. As chair of the Library Development Committee and a member of the Library Building Committee, his campaign to champion the library’s expansion culminated in the opening of the 9,170 square-metre Glucksman Library in 1998. George was responsible for the acquisition of the antiquarian libraries of Eamonn Norton, Fr John Leonard and Ciarán McAnally and was influential in securing the personal papers of the writer Maurice Walsh and the Armstrong Family of Moyaliffe Castle, County Tipperary. George was also a member of the initial design team for the redevelopment of the Glucksman Library – an inspiring, 15,000 square-metre facility due to open in early 2018.