Latest University News

22 July 2024

O’Gorman Collection donated to University of Galway

First edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses and an edition illustrated and signed by Matisse among collection owned by founder of Galway Advertiser     A literary collection owned by the late entrepreneur, local historian and supporter of the arts, Ronnie O’Gorman, has been donated to University of Galway.  The bequest was finalised by Ronnie O'Gorman, the founder and publisher of the Galway Advertiser, before he died in May 2024. It will reside in the University's Library as part of its Special Collections.    The carefully curated collection features many rare and significant works of Irish literature, representing his deep appreciation of Irish writing, the history of publishing in the country and his lifelong passion for the collection and promotion of Irish literature and art.   The works also span three generations of the O’Gorman family and many of the volumes reflect the family’s long interest in the history of Galway, about which Ronnie wrote extensively.    The collection was presented at a special event at University of Galway Library earlier in the year, attended by Ronnie O’Gorman and family, as well as friends and associates.    It includes a first edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses; one of 250 signed copies of a New York Limited Editions Club first edition Ulysses, with illustrations by the French artist Henri Matisse, signed by both the artist and Joyce; and The Aran Islands, by John Millington Synge, with 12 hand-coloured illustrations by Jack B. Yeats, which was described by the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography as "the great prose manifesto of the Irish literary revival".   As well as more rare and beautiful volumes collected by Ronnie O’Gorman, his father Frank and also his grandfather Philip, who worked as Library Clerk in the University of Galway Library in the late 19th century, the collection also includes two 19th Century Walter Osborne paintings - Galway Fowl Market and Galway Fish Market.   Ben O’Gorman, son of Ronnie O’Gorman, said: “Our family is delighted that we were able to keep the collection together and for it to be donated to the University - somewhere that really appreciates it. Ronnie took such joy in curating his collection, it was in many ways his life’s work, so to be able to keep it in one place, for the future, for others to enjoy, is a great legacy.”     President of University of Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said: “The O’Gorman Collection is a tremendous gift to the University community and it is particularly poignant that the collection will reside in our Library where Ronnie O’Gorman’s grandfather Philip worked. Ronnie O’Gorman was a man of huge insight, huge foresight, in establishing the Advertiser and the sense of community that developed for Galway. As we celebrate the donation of such a beautiful gift, I also remember and cherish the day that we had with Ronnie on campus early in 2024, a day that had generosity, community, atmosphere - all of those things that characterised Ronnie O’Gorman.”     University of Galway Librarian Monica Crump said: “The O’Gorman collection represents the very best of Irish literature and culture. It was started by Philip O’Gorman, a former Library Clerk here in the Library, continued by his son Frank and then his grandson Dr Ronnie O’Gorman. We are grateful to all three generations of the O’Gorman family for their commitment to collecting these wonderful works and looking after them so well in the intervening years. And we are immensely grateful to Ronnie and the O’Gorman family for entrusting us with these volumes. We are committed to continuing the good work of the O’Gormans, of preserving them, keeping them safe, and making them available for students and researchers into the future.”    Catriona Cannon, Head of Heritage Collections and Digitisation at University of Galway Library, said: “Ronnie was a long-time friend of the Library and tireless champion of art and culture in the West of Ireland. He was always a welcome sight in our reading room, his combination of knowledge, passion and generosity of spirit was utterly unique and a joy to encounter. This legacy will ensure the continuity of Ronnie’s lifelong commitment to preserving and promoting Ireland’s literary culture - it is a gift to the city he loved and it will inspire and educate students and staff of the University and our researchers for generations to come.”    Ends

Read more

18 July 2024

Irish peat soils - vital for the environment - are far more vast than we realised

New research has revealed that peat soils which are vital for locking away greenhouse gases are much more abundant than previously thought. Data analysed by researchers now suggests that these soils cover 13% more of Ireland’s land mass than previous maps would have shown. The new map includes areas of shallow peat soils, which, crucially also contain large stocks of soil carbon. The maps are useful in land use planning - with peat soils being critical in absorbing greenhouse gases and helping to meet some of Ireland’s most pressing environmental challenges. As recommended by the United Nations Global Peatlands Initiative, the research team from University of Galway, Trinity College Dublin and Queen’s University Belfast, included these shallow peat soils in the new peat map of Ireland. In doing so, they adopted a broader definition of peat soils by including soil material containing 8.6% of organic matter or more that has accumulated to at least 10 cm. The research has been published in the journal Geoderma and can be read here. Dr Terry Morley, University of Galway, one of the co-authors of the research article, said: “Peat soils are important because they help the country meet national and international targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and also play a major role in regulating stream flow, water quality, or providing habitat for ecologically sensitive species.”   Dr Louis Gilet, Trinity College Dublin and lead author, said: “Our technique involves continually updating these peat soil maps as new data become available, and this new IPSM can now be used confidently and contribute to a more precise identification of the location of peat soils across Ireland.   “The IPSM can thus help to accurately implement regulations concerning carbon-rich soils and climate change mitigation, while informing management decisions related to other key sustainability issues such as land use planning, biodiversity management or water regulation.”  Historically, interest in peat soils primarily focused on economic productivity, via extraction, or conversion to agriculture or forestry, but in recent years there has been a growing appreciation of their role in regulating environmental processes as well as providing recreational, educational, scientific and cultural value. Dr Raymond Flynn, Queen’s University Belfast, is also co-author of the research article, and he said: “This map changes our approach to mapping peat soils from the traditional approach concerned with agronomy to one where we can now more reliably focus on the role of peat and peat soils in environmental processes.”  Dr John Connolly, Trinity College Dublin, geographer and one of the Global Peatlands Assessment authors, added: “Peatlands hold a significant percentage of Ireland’s total soil organic carbon stock, but they have been severely degraded over the past 200 years due to land use change and associated human activity, resulting in increased emissions from both deep and shallow peat. As a result, accurate identification, mapping and management of peat soils is essential for programmes that aim to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and to improve biodiversity in the Irish landscape.”  This research is part of the RePEAT project, which is funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Ends

Read more

15 July 2024

Two University of Galway academics recognised by ENLIGHT European University Alliance

University of Galway academics Dr Kathy Reilly and Dr Conn Holohan have been awarded ENLIGHT Impact awards for their research endeavours. The awards were bestowed at a special event at the University of the Basque Country in Bilbao, where the academics were recognised for their impactful projects, highlighting the significant positive change their research brings to society. University of Galway secured two out of the six awards: Dr Kathy Reilly was awarded under the Climate Change category for her work with young people and empowerment to tackle policy. The research involved than 2,000 young people, including those in 11 post-primary schools, in the creation of research tools and educational toolkits, boosting their knowledge and confidence in climate issues. Entitled CCC-CATAPULT: Challenging the Climate Crisis: Children’s Agency to Tackle Policy Underpinned by Learning for Transformation, the work has fed into the development of Climate Action and Sustainable Development Curriculum for schools. Dr Conn Holohan was awarded under the Culture & Creativity theme for his Immersive Empathy project on homelessness. The project involved the production of a new virtual reality film Lost & Found which captures the experience of homelessness from the perspective of those who have lived it. The production adopted a 360-degree style of filming to show the viewer a fully immersive world that can be experienced by wearing a virtual reality headset. It was co-created out of the University’s Centre for Creative Technologies, in collaboration with clients from with Galway Simon Community, enabling people who have experienced homelessness to share their stories but also to enhance their lives through greater engagement in work, education, and volunteering. Three of the six people who took part have gone on to study at the University while the film has effectively fostered empathy and positive attitudes towards the homeless. Professor Becky Whay, University of Galway’s Vice President International and University of Galway Director within the ENLIGHT Alliance, said: “These ENLIGHT Impact awards represent thoroughly deserved recognition from across the ENLIGHT University Alliance for both Conn Holohan’s and Kathy Reilly’s research and the longstanding impact it will have on society. Their success is an inspiration for our research community and is a great example of how impact can be achieved.” The ENLIGHT Impact Award is given annually as part of the ENLIGHT European University Alliance, of which University of Galway is a partner, along with nine other universities across Europe. The awards recognise and give visibility to research endeavours that are exemplars in planning for and achieving impact.  ENLIGHT includes University of Galway; Comenius University, Bratislava (Slovakia); University of Groningen (Netherlands); University of Bern (Switzerland); University of Bordeaux (France); Ghent University (Belgium); University of Tartu (Estonia); University of Gottingen (Germany); University of the Basque Country (Spain); and Uppsala University (Sweden). The project is supported by the Government and the European Commission. The aim is for the alliance to develop as a platform for the creation of a new type of European university campus where students and staff have increased opportunities for international study, training, teaching, research and sharing of services. ENLIGHT aims to collaboratively transform higher education, addressing societal challenges and promoting equitable quality of life, sustainability and external engagement with the communities of the partner universities. Ends

Read more