Limerick university honours Roscrea man who helped Laois libraries

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University of Limerick Honorary Conferrings

Pictured in Plassey House at the University of Limerick was George Cunningham with his wife Carmel Cunningham before the ceremony. Photo: Oisin McHugh True Media

Roscrea native George Cunningham who has helped libraries in Laois and other counties as been bestowed with a Honorary Doctorate by the University of Limerick.

In addition to publishing more than 100 books and articles, George Cunningham has collected over 25,000 volumes but has given away more than three times that to schools and other institutions.

Recipients of his books include Coláiste Phobal Ros Cré, the Tipperary, Offaly and Laois library services and the University of Limerick’s Glucksman Library.

Born in Roscrea in 1940, George Cunningham was awarded a secondary scholarship to St Flannan’s College in Ennis, County Clare. George then went on to graduate from St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra as a primary school teacher in 1961.

George went on to successfully lead a campaign for the preservation of Damer House, a Queen Anne townhouse built within Roscrea Castle in 1720, before opening it to the public as a national monument. Following this, George spearheaded many restoration projects including the Damer House Annex and Roscrea’s round tower.

George retired from teaching in 1987, and in the same year he founded the Roscrea medieval conferences, which brought together national and international scholars to present on learned aspects of Early Christian Ireland and the later Middle Ages.

George served on the UL Governing Authority from 1992 to 2009 and fulfilled the role of deputy chairperson from 2003 to 2007. As chair of the Library Development Committee and a member of the Library Building Committee, his campaign to champion the library’s expansion culminated in the opening of the 9,170 square-metre Glucksman Library in 1998.

UL President, Dr Des Fitzgerald said: “The bestowing of a UL honorary doctorate represents the opportunity to honour those who have inspired, and worked tirelessly to make great contributions in their fields of endeavour. Today, we honour two such men who have made unique and powerful contributions to history and the arts in this country.” 

“George Cunningham has spent his life preserving and creating books, he fosters a love for literature in everyone around him.

 George Cunningham and Irish Chamber Orchestra (ICO) Chairman Michael Buckley were conferred Honorary Doctorates of Letters in Plassey House at the University of Limerick.