Royal Irish Academy

Royal Irish Academy

Founded in 1785, the Royal Irish Academy (Acadamh Ríoga na hÉireann) is Ireland's pre-eminent society of scholarship and culture. It's role (inter alia) is to promote Irish excellence in scholarship, recognise achievements in learning, and direct research programs in areas relating to Ireland - including Irish art and culture.

Membership of the Academy (MRIA) is restricted to residents of the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland. There are about 400 members in total. Candidates - typically with high quality published achievements - must be nominated by five Academicians, and thereafter undergo a rigorous, peer-reviewed selection procedure. Current members include scholars, artists, scientists and writers from around Ireland. Membership is by election, usually after the proposed member has published a noted scientific or scholarly work. Those elected are permitted to use the letters MRIA after their names. International candidates may be awarded honorary membership of the Academy. A members database is available on the RIA's website.

Honorary Membership is awarded to those who have made major contributions to their academic discipline, but who are normally resident outside the island of Ireland. A potential candidate for Honorary Membership must be proposed by at least two Academy Members. Proposals are reviewed and elected on an annual basis, and those accepted are entitled to use the letters Hon MRIA after their names. There are about 50 Honorary Members and past members have included J.W. von Goethe, Jakob Grimm, Maria Edgeworth, Albert Einstein and Max Born.

Since 1951, the Royal Irish Academy (RIA) has been based in Dawson Street in the centre of Dublin. It employs a permanent staff of 92. The Academy has links with sister institutions worldwide and is the Irish representative on most international learned associations, as well as being a participant in a number of international research projects. It also gives policy advice to the Government, which finances the academy through the Higher Education Authority. The RIA's extensive library holds several priceless Irish manuscripts (eg. Lebor Gabála Erenn, Book of the Invasions of Ireland) including some early Celtic masterpieces (eg. Cathach of Colmcille [560 CE]), although some of these have now been transferred to the National Museum of Ireland. The history of Irish art is indebted to the Academy for helping to secure several unique Celtic treasures (eg. the Petrie Crown and the Broighter Collar) for the State.

The Royal Irish Academy is run by the RIA President and Council, who are responsible for the Academy's general government. They are elected each year at the Stated Meeting on 16th March. Usually, the President serves a three year term of office. The membership of RIA Council is drawn from the Sciences and Humanities sections. The Council formulates policies, develops and recommends candidates for membership.

Royal Irish Academy Senior Officers 2010-2011

Nicholas P. Canny President
John Corish Treasurer
Thomas J. Brazil Secretary
Jane Conroy Secretary, Polite Literature and Antiquities
Peter I. Mitchell Secretary, Science
Marie Therese Flanagan Secretary, International Relations
David J. Fegan Senior Vice-President

RIA Grants & Awards

Each year the Academy awards about 60 research grants, in both the fields of humanities and natural sciences. These are made through a network of awards, including archaeological research grants, international exchanges and travel bursaries. Each year the Academy awards 6 Gold Medals to Ireland’s foremost thinkers in the humanities, social sciences, physical and mathematical sciences, life sciences, engineering sciences and the environment and geosciences. The medals are highly prestigious and the awards are sponsored by the Higher Education Authority and The Irish Independent newspaper.

RIA Library

The library is at the heart of the Academy and has over 2,000 manuscripts, including the largest collection of Irish language manuscripts in a one single location (1,400 in total including the Book of the Dune Cow c. 1100). It holds the oldest surviving Irish manuscript, the Cathach, or Psalter of St. Columba, and other important early texts. The manuscript collections cover a wide range of fields including genealogy, history, literature, hagiography, early Irish law, natural history, journals and diaries and society minute books. There are also a wide range of printed books, pamphlets, maps, records of the nineteenth-century Ordnance Survey and thousands of antiquarian drawings covering the entire island. Some of these publications have been reproduced in book format and are available for purchase via the RIA online website shop.

The library opens Monday - Thursday: 10am - 5.30pm; and Fridays 10am - 5pm.

Further Information

For more information, contact:
The Royal Irish Academy
19 Dawson Street
Dublin 2.
Telephone: (+353) 01-676-2570.

For more information about the Academy’s response to requests for expert views, please contact its Senior Research and Policy Officer, Ms. Sinead Riordan. Telephone: (+353) 01-609-0604.

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