Royal Irish Academy

Not to be confused with Royal Hibernian Academy.
Royal Irish Academy
Formation 1785 (1785)
Founder James Caulfeild, 1st Earl of Charlemont
Headquarters 19 Dawson Street, Dublin 2,
Dublin, Ireland
Mary E. Daly

The Royal Irish Academy (RIA) (Irish: Acadamh Ríoga na hÉireann), based in Dublin, is an all-Ireland, independent academic body that promotes study and excellence in the sciences, humanities and social sciences. It is one of Ireland's premier learned societies and cultural institutions and currently has around 420 Members, elected in recognition of their academic achievements. The Academy was established in 1785 and granted royal charter in 1786.[1]

Until the late 19th century it was also the owner of the main national collection of Irish antiquities. It presented its collection of archaeological artefacts and similar items, which included such famous pieces as the Tara Brooch, to what is now the National Museum of Ireland, but retains its very significant collection of manuscripts.

Mission statement

The Academy has issued the following mission statement:

The Royal Irish Academy, the academy for the sciences and humanities for the whole of Ireland will vigorously promote excellence in scholarship, recognise achievements in learning, direct research programmes and undertake its own research projects, particularly in areas relating to Ireland and its heritage.

It will reflect upon, advise on and contribute to public debate and public policy formation on issues of major interest in science, technology and culture.

It will continue to offer an independent forum to Irish scholars, it will provide a network of support for scholarly disciplines through its network of academy committees, it will maintain and enhance its unique library, it will publish scholarly papers and it will represent the world of Irish learning internationally.[2]


Election to Membership of the Royal Irish Academy is a public recognition of academic excellence. It is the highest academic honour in Ireland. Those elected are entitled to use the designation "MRIA" after their name. The criterion for election to Membership is a significant contribution to scholarly research as shown in the candidate's published academic work. To be elected, a candidate has to be proposed and recommended by five Members. Presently, twenty Members are elected each year, equally divided between the sciences and humanities. Membership is open only to those resident in Ireland.

Honorary Membership can be awarded to persons who have made outstanding contribution to their academic discipline, but who are normally resident outside the island of Ireland. At least two existing Members must propose and recommend a candidate for Honorary Membership. Honorary members are entitled to use the designation "Hon. MRIA" after their name.


The Academy is one of the longest-established publishers in Ireland, beginning in 1787. The Academy currently publishes six journals, including Ériu. The Academy's research projects also regularly publish the Irish Historic Towns Atlas series, the Documents on Irish Foreign Policy, Foclóir na nua-Ghaeilge, the Dictionary of Medieval Latin from Celtic Sources, and the New Survey of Clare Island. In 2014 the Academy published (in association with Yale University Press) the five-volume Art and Architecture of Ireland.

The Academy is committed to publishing work which not only influences scholarship, but also the wider community, for example Flashes of Brilliance by Dick Ahlstrom, and Judging Dev by Diarmaid Ferriter. Both of these publications have been accompanied by either a television or a radio series.

Academy Committees

During the 1950s the Academy began forming national committees, each relating to a specific discipline. Today the main focus of the Academy committees is to serve as a strategic vehicle for the disciplines they represent, and to act as a national forum, providing input into policy, research priorities and issues of public concern, such as climate change. They also organise public outreach activities, such as lectures and public interviews, and award grants for research and travel. The Academy committees are made up of both Members and non-Members, including representatives from universities, research institutions, government agencies and, where appropriate, industry.

Academy House

In 1852 the Royal Irish Academy moved to its current premises at 19, Dawson Street, Dublin 2, known as "Academy House".[3] Built in c.1750, the building has some fine decorative plasterwork and a handsome meeting room designed in 1854 by Frederick Clarendon and now used for conferences, exhibitions and public talks. Academy House was home to many of Ireland's finest national treasures, including the Ardagh Chalice and the Tara Brooch, until 1890 when the Academy transferred its collections to the newly established National Museum of Ireland.[4]

The Academy Library holds the largest collection of Old Irish manuscripts in the world.[3] It is an important research centre for studies covering Irish history, language, archaeology and the history of Irish science. The Library is home to the sixth-century Latin psalter, the Cathach, reputedly copied by St Columcille.[5] The Library also holds the personal library of Thomas Moore and the philological collection of Osborn J. Bergin.

See also Category:Royal Irish Academy Library


The President and Council are responsible for the Academy's general government and regulation. They are elected annually at the Stated Meeting on 16 March. The President normally serves a three-year term of office. The membership of Council is drawn from the Sciences and Humanities sections. Council formulates policies, develops and recommends candidates for membership.
The Executive Committee supports the Council in supervising the day-to-day business of the Academy. The members of the Executive Committee are the President, Senior Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, Secretaries of Science and PL&A, Executive Secretary, Secretary for International Relations and a Staff Representative.

The Royal Irish Academy became a prescribed body under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 1997 and the Freedom of Information Act (Amendment) 2003, on 31 May 2006.[6]

Current and past presidents

Cunningham Medal

The Academy’s premier award is its Cunningham Medal, which was established in 1796 at the bequest of barrister Timothy Cunningham of Gray's Inn.

After a period of uncertainty and experimentation regarding the terms and conditions of the award, it was agreed in 1848 that the medals would be open to the authors of works or essays in the areas of Science, Polite Literature and Antiquities, published in Ireland or about Irish subjects.[42]

It is awarded every three years to Members of the Academy in recognition of "outstanding contributions to scholarship and the objectives of the Academy" [7]

Past recipients


Notable members

See also category:Members of the Royal Irish Academy

See also


  1. Harbison, Peter (2003). "Royal Irish Academy" , in Lalor, Brian (ed) Encyclopaedia of Ireland, Dublin: Gill & Macmillan, pp 948–949.
  2. "Mission statement". Royal Irish Academy. Retrieved 14 September 2013.
  3. 1 2 Raifeartaigh, T.O. (1985). The Royal Irish Academy: A bicentennial history 1785–1985. Dublin: Royal Irish Academy.
  4. Archived 3 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. Jones, Mary. "An Cathach". Jones's Celtic Encyclopedia. Retrieved 18 November 2011.
  6. Archived 16 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  7. 1 2 3 "RIA Elects first Woman President in 229 years". Royal Irish Academy. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  8. "New President and Officers of the RIA". Royal Irish Academy. Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  9. 1 2 "Dictionary of irish biography" (PDF). Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  10. "RIA Annual Report 2002-2003" (PDF). RIA. Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  11. "RIA Biographies". RIA. Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  12. "Academy Gold Medallists 2011". RIA. Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  13. "Profile – Issue 24, Sep 2005-Professor James Dooge FREng". Ingenia Online. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
  14. "George Huxley Papers-SERIES V. Newspaper Clippings". The American School of Classical Studies at Athens. Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  15. "The Learned Tales of Medieval Ireland [Hardcover]". Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  16. "George Francis (Frank) Mitchell (1912–1997)". Ask about Ireland. Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  17. "Irishman who discovered cure for leprosy honoured". Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  18. "John Lighton Synge". Retrieved 6 August 2013.
  19. "Thomas Percy Claude Kirkpatrick Archive" (PDF). Royal College of Physicians of Ireland. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
  20. Robert Lloyd Praeger (October 2000). "The Life of a Naturalist by Sean Lysaght". Biology and Environment: Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy. Royal Irish Academy. 100B: 70–74. Retrieved 2015-05-22.
  22. "Praeger, Robert Lloyd (Ireland 1865–1953)". Retrieved 6 August 2013.
  23. "Professor R.A.S. Macalister (1870–1950) Professor of Celtic Archaeology (1909–1943)". University College,Dublin. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
  24. O'Day, Alan. Irish Home Rule, 1867–1921. p. Glossary xii.
  25. O'Day, Alan. Irish Home Rule, 1867–1921. p. Glossary xxvi.
  26. "Parsons, Laurence". Oxford DNB. Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  27. "John Kells Ingram (1823 - 1907): Academic and economist". Dictionary of Ulster Biography. Retrieved 1 November 2014.
  28. "John O'Donovan/William Reeves correspondence". UCD Digital Library. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
  29. "Charles O'Shaughnessy's rebuttal of Darwin". Retrieved 7 August 2013.
  30. "Stokes,William". Oxford DNB. Retrieved 6 August 2013.
  31. "Jellett, John Hewitt". Ask about Ireland. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
  32. Address of Lord Talbot de Malahide on His Inauguration as President of the ... - James Talbot Baron Talbot de Malahide - Google Books. Retrieved 2015-05-22.
  33. Wikisource:Graves, Charles (DNB01)
  34. "James Henthorn Todd by G.O.Simms" (PDF). JSTOR. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
  35. "Thomas Romney Robinson (1793–1882)". Ask about Ireland. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
  36. "Humphrey Lloyd-1867 – 1881 (c. 1800–81)". Trinity College, Dublin. Retrieved 6 August 2013.
  37. 1 2 "Royal Irsh Academy". Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  38. "Bartholomew Lloyd-1831 – 1837 (c. 1772–1837)". Trinity College Dublin. Retrieved 6 August 2013.
  39. "John Brinkley ~ the Astronomer Bishop". Retrieved 6 August 2013.
  40. "British Armorial Bindings". Retrieved 6 August 2013.
  41. "Science at the Royal Irish Academy: 'Uniting whatever is pleasing with whatever is useful' Exhibition". The Heritage Council. Retrieved 6 August 2013.
  42. "Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy (1836-1869)". Royal Irish Academy. JSTOR 20489903.
  43. "Cunningham Medal 2008" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-05-22.
  44. "James Dooge (1922–2010)". 8 August 2010. Retrieved 18 November 2011.
  45. "Biography of Gearóid Mac Eoin". Retrieved 2015-05-22.
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Research projects

The Academy currently manages a number of high-profile research projects in the sciences and humanities.

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