Awards Day NUI Galway, Feb 2019


Josiah Burke receives Labhras O Nuallain’s book from from Niamh O Dochartaigh, flanked by sister Esther on left and his mother Martina and sister Jemima on right.  

The National University of Ireland Galway, named ‘University of the Year 2018’ in the Sunday Times University Guide, now caters for 17,000 students. On 9th February 2019,at the University annual  Awards Day, all  ‘scholars of excellence’, were presented with their prizes. They and their families filled the Bailey Allen Hall to capacity as Vice President Pól Ó Dochartaigh presented Awards and Prizes.

This year the Labhrás Ó Nualláin prize was presented to top student Josiah Burke from Castlebar County Mayo. Labhrás was a former Professor of Economics in the University with a special interest in Development Economics. Having left school in Manchester for work at age 15, by the age of 21 he had educated himself to a higher level, succeeded in obtaining the Matriculation Exam, a job in the Irish Civil Service  and entry to night classes at University College Dublin and Trinity College. His story is recorded in ‘Memoir of an Irish Economist – Working Class Manchester to Irish Academia’.  Labhrás’ daughter Niamh presented This book to Josiah.
Josiah  began studying at NUI Galway in 2015 and graduated in 2018 with a first-class Bachelor of Commerce degree. Having a deep interest in Economics, his final year studies were heavily biased towards that subject. Josiah was top of his class in Health Economics and Development Economics, and was twice awarded a University Scholarship for Academic Excellence. Josiah is currently pursuing a Masters in Economic History at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Professor Patrick Drudy

Professor Patrick Drudy and his former Professor's Memoir

Professor Patrick Drudy and his former Professor’s Memoir

Professor Partrick Drudy also known as P.J. to his friends, is Emeritus Professor of Economics and Director of the Centre for Urban and Regional Studies at Trinity College, Dublin. In the 1960s he was a student at NUI Galway and studied for his B.Commerce Degree, as it was then known, under Labhrás Ó Nualláin.  He has good memories of his undergraduate years in Galway and especially  found Labhras’s Lectures both stimulating and informative in the many courses he covered at that time. P.J. went on to Cambridge University and carved out a stellar career in Academic Economics with a firm emphasis on application at a  local and national level.




Labhras O Nuallain revisits Manchester

Eoin, Kevin Fitzpatrick, Niamh, Dr Liam Harte at St Kents.

Eoin, Kevin Fitzpatrick, Niamh, Dr Liam Harte at St Kents.

It was a happy experience for me to be able to visit Manchester, the birthplace of my father, where he lived for 21 years before migrating to Ireland in late 1933. We had a book launch there at the end of the Manchester Irish Festival, and in St Kentigerns Irish Social Club, I delivered a presentation on his life and times before a fine group of enthusiastic Irish language students.

Labhras 1960s

Labhras 1960s

Frances, Labhras, 1938. Honeymoon in Jersey

Frances, Labhras, 1938. Honeymoon in Jersey

Club Manager Kevin Fitzpatrick had everything laid on to welcome us and Dr Liam Harte, a NUI Galway graduate and a Senior History Lecturer in the University of Manchester, had come along to launch the book.

1971,Mary Robinson and Labhras, EEC Forum, Ballina. President Higgins on right.

1971,Mary Robinson and Labhras, EEC Forum, Ballina. President Higgins on right.

I owe thanks also to Tony Hennigan of the Mayo Manchester Website for making the visit possible  and who took the top pic.

Some of the Manchester-Irish Group

Some of the Manchester-Irish Group

A visit to the palatial Manchester Public Library was a highlight too. Knock to Manchester is now a fast and efficient flight.

Two Presidents remember Labhras O Nuallain

At the inaugural Distinguished Lectures series  of the new  Institute for Lifecourse and Society at NUI Galway, 0n 30 November  2015, President Michael D. Higgins gave the Address.  During his speech he spoke warmly of the late Labhrás Ó Nualláin, former Professor of Economics, whom he had known and worked with as a student in Galway in the 1960s and ’70s. The President  praised his work on the Social and Economic problems of the West of Ireland and his efforts to tackle  the massive emigration of the times, which led to the formation of the Social Sciences Research Unit,  a precursor for the new ILAS on the NUIG Campus.   NUI Galway  President Jim Browne, also referred to Labhras’s autobiography and gave a short resumé of his life and of his time in Galway. U t Institute for Lifecourse and Society.





Labhras O Nuallain Award 2016

Gordon Coffey, Prizewinner, and  Niamh O Dochartiagh.

Gordon Coffey, Prizewinner, and Niamh O Dochartiagh.

The annual Labhrás Ó Nualláin Prize was presented at the February Awards Day in February ’16 at NUI Galway. This Award was set up after his death  by the son and daughter of Labhras, in memory of their late father and his work at the University as a former Professor of Economics. The prize is awarded to the best Essay on Development Economics by a NUIG student.

The winner this year was Gordon Coffey from Carlow, a top Bachelor of Commerce  student at the Cairnes School of Business and Economics who is currently working for an MA Degree. This eminently worthy recipient,  who is totally committed to his studies,  entered NUIG as a mature student and he also took the Aramark prize for Honours Bachelor of  Economics. at the same ceremony. 

Gordon was then presented with the recently published autobiography of Labhrás Ó Nualláin, by his daughter Niamh O Dochartaigh. The autobiography, the story of his life and times in in Manchester of the 1920s and ’30s, and later in Dublin and Galway, where he died in 2000, recalls with humour an eventful and action filled life  It is called ‘ Memoir of an Irish Economist – Working Class Manchester to Irish Academia ‘

Memoir of an Irish Economist – Working Class Manchester to Irish Academia. Labhras O Nuallain 1912 -2000

Labhras O Nuallain 1912 - 2000

Labhras O Nuallain 1912 – 2000

For other Posts and Video,  click on Labhrás Ó Nualláin  site title at top.

Labhrás Ó Nualláin was a lecturer and subsequently Professor of Economics at University College Galway  Prior to his academic career he had been politically active in Clann na Poblachta in the early years from 1947 – ’56.  Born and brought up in Manchester by Irish parents, he was active in Irish language, cultural and sporting circles there and at the age of 21 he moved to Ireland.  The book contains a kelaidescope view of  many varied memories of  sporting, social, political and academic happenings in Ireland and England spanning over 70 years of the twentieth century.  ‘Memoir of an Irish Economist – Working Class Manchester to Irish Academia’. Book available in Galway at   Charlie Byrnes, University Bookshop, Kennys, Easons.  In Dublin at Easons, Stephens Green Centre, UCD Bookshop, Belfield.  15 Euro.   Online

For further availability information please contact
See some book extracts in drop-down Menus above.

Launch of Labhras O Nuallain Memoir

President Jim Browne, R Editor Niamh O Dochartaigh, Gearoid O Tuathaigh,, Prof. Alan Ahearne

President Jim Browne, Editor Niamh O Dochartaigh, Gearoid O Tuathaigh,, Prof. Alan Ahearne

SAM_5663A successful and most enjoyable book Launch was held at NUI Galway on 23 November  ’15.  University President Jim Browne opened proceedings by referring to the importance of this publication, as so few memoirs of this type exist, detailing the interior life of an Academic Institution. He spoke of the value of a Lecturer who gave so  much to his community throughout his career and instigated so many progressive and worthwhile moves within academia itself.  Historian and Emeritus Professor Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh  spoke warmly of the man he knew and admired and quoted extracts from the work.  Professor of Economics Alan Ahearne, who chaired proceedings,  spoke of the great strides  made within the NUIG Economics School and stressed that he and his colleagues stand on the shoulders of his forebears in this respect.

COMMENTS;  Dominic Burke  “Obviously an extremely intelligent  and determined man, he also had empathy for his times, an awareness of the social and political, and a keen observance of nature, of people and the contrast twixt Manchester and rural Ireland . His recollections ” resonate” – I grew up in the forties! I am and will continue to savour the book – thank you.”

Connacht Tribune – Peadar O’ Dowd  “Memoirs are a dime a dozen in this varied world of modern print and die a death of indifference on a lonely bookshelf – not this one.  How a young  ‘townie’ from Manchester fell ‘I ngrá’ with Ireland and all things Irish……this outstanding work…. Intriguing Memoir of a self-made Academic”

Galway Advertiser – Ronnie O’Gorman  “He enjoyed his life here, later becoming a very popular and inspirational Professor of Economics….  Labhrás died in 2000 but fortunately left an extended diary of his life and thoughts, often with flashes of great humour”

Presentation of Labhras O Nuallain Memoir to President Michael D Higgins

President Michael D Higgins and Niamh O Dochartaigh

President Michael D Higgins graciously accepted  ‘Memoir of an Irish Economist’, at Aras an Uachtaráin on 5 November ’15. The President reminisced about the ‘old days’ in College and added some witty tales of his own. He had been a former student and later a young colleague of Labhrás in earlier UCG days where they held many views and opinions in common. The Phoenix Park trees blazed magnificently in their autumn colours and the visit to the Arus was an exceptional pleasure for Niamh.