To be named as one of “Twenty Europeans who have changed our lives” indicates the global reach of UCD alumni and is an accolade PROFESSOR ELEANOR MAGUIRE certainly deserves. Dublin born, the neuroscientist holds a BA and a PhD from UCD. Since 2007, she has been Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London. Her focus is primarily on memory, and one of her notable works was on the brains of London taxi drivers and the observation that they are more highly developed than those of their fellow citizens.
Maguire has won a number of prizes for her work, among them the Ig Nobel Prize for Medicine, the Royal Society Rosalind Franklin Award and The Feldberg Foundation Prize. In 2011, Professor Maguire was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and this year, a Fellow of the Royal Society. She was also awarded two Wellcome Trust Research Fellowships.
MARTIN FRASER, who graduated from UCD with a BComm in 1993, has risen swiftly up the ranks of the civil service, attaining the role of Secretary General to the Irish Government and to the Department of the Taoiseach in 2011. He had previously served as an Assistant Secretary in the Department since 2007 during which time he worked as head of Northern Ireland and International Affairs, Corporate Affairs and the Economic and Social Policy divisions. Fraser joined the Taoiseach’s Department as finance officer in 1999. He has also worked in the Departments of Social Protection, Foreign Affairs and Agriculture, Food and Marine. Fraser was also Chairman of the National Economic and Social Council (NESC), which advises the Taoiseach on strategic issues regarding economic and social development.
Food is critical to this country’s growth and JOHN HORGAN, who left Belfield in the mid 1970s as an agricultural scientist, is a leading player in the field. Horgan worked as an Agricultural Inspector in the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, moved to the European Commission as a Dairy and Beef Market Analyst and was the industry’s representative in the Confederation of Irish Industry from 1980 to 1987. In 2000, Horgan became Managing Director of the Kepak Group, applying his expertise and energy to drive it from traditional meat processing to a producer of specialised and branded meat products and foods. Under his guidance, Kepak has become an acknowledged leader in meat excellence and traceability systems, determined to deliver integrity from farm to fork. Horgan has remained loyal to his alma mater, supporting the School of Agricultural Science’s initiatives and programmes.
IAN QUINN, who seven years later, armed with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, went to co-found Creganna Medical Devices, working as its CEO for a quarter of a century. Quinn also served as managing director of the Galway-based company which initially provided a variety of outsourced engineering solutions to a range of industries. In 1998, Creganna entered the medical device industry, and in 2003, divested its operations to focus solely on this sector. In 2010, private equity group Permira acquired a majority stake and in March of this year, Creganna was sold in a €820m cash deal to TE Connectivity.
Today, the company Quinn founded is ranked among the top three providers of minimally invasive medical device outsourcing solutions in the world. Quinn, who owns film maker John Huston’s former home in Galway, is currently making significant investments in the Irish property market.
DR DENNIS JENNINGS, who was inducted as a Pioneer into the Internet Hall of Fame in 2014 was the first full-time Director of Computing Service at UCD from 1977 to 1999, providing services comparable to the most advanced universities, including connecting UCD to the EARN network, which enabled researchers in Belfield work with colleagues around the world in near real-time. With a PhD from UCD in Gamma Ray Astronomy, he also helped lead the National Science Foundation’s networking developments, selecting the technology and the architectural principles underlying today’s internet. Jennings’ founding chairmanship of the Council of European National Top Level Domain Registries and his work as chair of the Oversight Board of Irish Centre for High-End Computing, among others, reflects his international contribution to networking.
DR ANNE MERRIMAN, a Liverpool native who joined the Medical Missionaries of Mary, went to Nigeria after finishing Medicine at UCD in 1963. Thirty years later, she founded Hospice Africa Uganda and under her tutelage, a system of palliative care specific to Third World Countries was developed. Her work ensuring affordable oral morphine which can be used at home revolutionised care for the dying in Africa. In spring 2014, her pioneering, compassionate leadership earned her a nomination for that year’s Nobel Peace Prize. Dr Merriman dedicated it to those who have worked with her saying, “This nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize is in my name, but it is for you.” Her modesty in the face of such extraordinary accomplishments and exemplary dedication are hallmarks of all of this year’s Foundation Day Alumni Awardees whose skills and success we salute and congratulate.
Former solicitor DR AIDEEN HAYDEN who graduated from UCD in 1981 with a BA in Economics and History, has worked in the field of housing for the last three decades. Best known as chair of the housing charity Threshold, she was a Taoiseach nominee to the Seanad in 2011, in recognition of her exemplary work and advocacy in this area. Dr Hayden, who also holds a PhD from UCD, has focused on seeking solutions to this crisis and in particular on mitigating difficulties experienced by vulnerable groups in Irish society today – the homeless, those in private rented accommodation and those in mortgage arrears.
COLM O’ROURKE has been passionate about sport all his life. After a glittering career playing Gaelic football for Meath (he won two All Ireland Senior Football Championship medals and three GAA All Star Awards), O’Rourke, who holds a BA and HDip from UCD, went on to manage Ireland to victory over Australia in the 1999 International Rules Series in Adelaide. He is the principal of St Patrick’s Classical School in Navan and continues to contribute to this sporting life as a columnist with The Sunday Independent and as a panellist on RTÉ’s The Sunday Game. O’Rourke is frequently flagged as Meath’s next manager.
BENJAMIN CLEARY won an Academy Award for his short film, Stutterer. Just over twelve minutes long and accepted into 60 festivals, it’s a tender, witty tale about an introverted typographer. Cleary, who graduated from the Belfield campus with a Bachelor of Business and Legal Studies a decade ago, went on to complete a Screenwriting MA at the London Film School in 2011. In addition to the Oscar for best Live Action Short, he picked up a London Critic’s Circle Award, an Irish Film and Television Award, an Irish Young Director Award and Best Foreign Film at LA Shorts Fest. The writer and director was selected for the prestigious “Les Nuits en Or” programme, with 29 other directors from around the world, to showcase Stutterer in ten cities around Europe last June.
Her Excellency Ms ANNE ANDERSON who graduated from UCD with a BA in History and Politics, is the 17th Ambassador of Ireland to the United States. A career diplomat, she also served as our representative to the United Nations, the European Union, France and Monaco, the first woman to hold each of these positions. She joined the Department of Foreign Affairs in 1972, working here and in Washington before being appointed our Permanent Representative to the UN from 1995 to 2001. While in Geneva, the Clonmel native was named as chair of the UN Commission on Human Rights, the fourth woman to earn the honour. From 2001 to 2005, she was Permanent Representative to the European Union in Geneva, where her work on behalf of Ireland earned her the honour of being named “Diplomat of the Year” by the influential website, European Voice.