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Today, South East Technological University (SETU) bestowed its first ever honorary doctorate on Irish academic and politician, Dr Maurice Manning, at its Carlow campus conferring ceremonies.

A native of Bagenalstown, Co Carlow, Dr Manning maintains strong links to the town to this day. He began his career in academia in 1966 as a lecturer at University College Dublin (UCD).  

Cherishing his teaching days, he spoke of the excellent research and writing opportunities that he had while at UCD. While there, he specialised in history of the early Irish state, a controversial topic at the time with memories of Civil War Ireland very much to the fore in society.  

Dr Manning recalls that he entered politics by accident in 1981, when he was asked to stand for election at short notice and won a seat in Dáil Éireann. “It was a complete new life with a sharp learning curve,” remembers Dr Manning. It was at Dáil Éireann that he learned the hard differences between the theories of academic life and the realities of political life.   

He later went on to become president of the Irish Human Rights Commission which he acknowledges as his toughest role. He recalls the struggle of changing entrenched views and attitudes, and the demanding efforts undertaken to challenge powerful interests. However, his time as president established secure foundations for the commission’s work into the future.


Dr Manning succeeded his lifelong friend, Garret Fitzgerald, as the fifth Chancellor of the National University of Ireland (NUI) in 2009 and returned to his roots in the world of academia through his work with the NUI’s constituent colleges: UCD; University College Cork (UCC); Maynooth University; University of Galway; and the Royal College of Surgeons (RCSI).  

Reflecting on his career, Dr Manning fondly acknowledges the friendships he made along the way with former Taoisigh of Ireland, Garret Fitzgerald, John Bruton, and Enda Kenny, as well as getting to know other great leaders like Nobel Prize laureate, John Hume, and former Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, Seamus Mallon.  

Speaking about receiving his honorary doctorate today, Dr Manning commented, “It’s a great honour for me to receive the first ever honorary doctorate to be bestowed by South East Technological University. My sincere thanks to President of SETU, Prof. Veronica Campbell, and the Governing body for this award. As a Carlow-native and also through my work with the National University of Ireland, what I have seen makes me enormously proud of the advances and world status of Irish higher education, and I am particularly happy to now be associated with SETU.” 

Exceptional contribution

SETU is the first TU to bestow honorary doctorate awards. By conferring an honorary doctorate, the university acknowledges an individual’s exceptional contribution to society, and that the individual’s endeavours exemplify the values SETU wishes to promote. It recognises the person’s exceptional achievements that have shaped society through the arts and sciences, culture, advocacy, social activity, sport, business, or other contributions.   

Further honorary doctorates are to be conferred this week on renowned actress Carrie Crowley; pioneering biomedical engineer, Prof. Annraoi de Paor; and on internationally acclaimed writer Claire Keegan; and career diplomat and former Irish ambassador to the USA, Daniel Mulhall in January.