Nicholas Canny, professor of history emeritus at NUI Galway, former President of the Royal Irish Academy, and founding director of the Moore Institute, has been awarded the RIA’s highest honour, the Cunningham Medal, for distinction in research and for furthering the aims of the Academy. The medal was presented to Professor Canny at a special ceremony at the RIA on 28th of January.
The Cunningham medal was first awarded by the Academy in 1796, following a bequest from Timothy Cunningham, a legal scholar and Member of the Inner Temple. Distinguished past recipients include the mathematician William Rowan Hamilton, the physician, traveller and antiquarian Sir William Wilde (father of Oscar), the historian David Beers Quinn, the poet Seamus Heaney, and most recently the chemist Dervilla M.X. Donnelly.
Professor Canny, the foremost historian of early modern Ireland, has also made leading contributions to Atlantic history. He took his undergraduate degree at University College Galway and his PhD at the University of Pennsylvania. His numerous books, articles and edited collections have explored the Elizabethan conquest of Ireland; colonial identity in the Atlantic World; and Making Ireland British, 1580–1650. He is currently completing a major study entitled Imagining Ireland’s Pasts; Early Modern Ireland through the Centuries.
Nicholas Canny first became a Member of the RIA in 1981, was elected Member of the Academia Europaea in 1995, became a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy in 2005, was elected to the American Philosophical Society in 2007, and to the Real Academia de la Historia (Madrid) in 2011. He served as Dean of the Faculty of Arts, 1982-85, founding Director of the Moore Institute (2000-2011), and was Vice President for Research at NUI Galway, 2005-2008. He was elected President of the RIA 2008-11 and was appointed by the European Commission to be a member of the Scientific Council of the European Research Council 2011-16, the only person from Ireland, so far, to have been given this responsibility.
Professor Daniel Carey, MRIA, Director of the Moore Institute, said: “This is a major honour to one of the university’s most distinguished graduates, with an international reputation as an historian and leader in research policy and administration. His career has been an inspiration to colleagues in the humanities at NUI Galway and across the country”.