Quinnipiac President Emeritus John L. Lahey honored by Irish government

Lahey tours a museum exhibit in Ireland.

International recognition

Ireland President Michael D. Higgins, then President John L. Lahey and Niamh O'Sullivan, consulting curator for Ireland's Great Hunger Museum, tour our "Coming Home: Art and the Great Hunger" exhibition at Dublin Castle.

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uinnipiac University President Emeritus John L. Lahey received a prestigious award from the President of Ireland.

Ireland President Michael D. Higgins honored Lahey with a Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad at a ceremony on November 29 at Áras an Uachtaráin, which is Higgins’s official residence in Dublin’s Phoenix Park.

“I am deeply honored and humbled to be recognized by the Irish government in this manner, and grateful for the importance President Higgins has placed on Quinnipiac’s Great Hunger Museum, Lahey said.

“There is now perhaps no deeper relationship between two peoples than that which exists between the peoples of Ireland and the United States, and that enduring bond has been greatly strengthened and deepened by the labors of Dr. John Lahey, for many years the President of Quinnipiac University," said Higgins.

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Lahey claps with students.

“I had the honor of meeting Dr. Lahey last March at the opening of, ‘Coming Home: Art and the Great Hunger,’ an exhibition that owes much to his efforts and will come to be seen as a landmark event in our continuing attempts to understand the full complexity and totality of the Famine, both in terms of its source and legacy.”

The award ceremony was followed by a private dinner hosted by Simon Coveney, Ireland's foreign minister, and Ciarán Cannon, Ireland's minister for the diaspora and international development at Farmleigh, the official Irish state guest house.

Ireland's Great Hunger Museum

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Lahey marches in the parade.

Leader in the Irish community — on both sides of the Atlantic

President Lahey served several key leadership roles throughout the Irish-American community — including chairman of the board and grand marshal of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade.

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The Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad is presented by the Irish president every year. It recognizes the service given to Ireland or to Irish communities abroad by those who live outside Ireland. Lahey was honored for his work in business and education.

“I am delighted to have the opportunity once again this year to formally recognize the achievements of some of the finest members of our global family, our diaspora,” Coveney said. “The diverse contributions of these individuals extends across six different categories. Through their work, they contribute to building an invaluably positive image of Ireland and Irish people around the world.”

Lahey, who retired in June after 31 years as Quinnipiac’s president, was feted for his contributions, including developing Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum at Quinnipiac University, which is home to the largest collection of Famine-era material, and facilitating the loan of the museum’s collection for exhibition in 2018 in Dublin, Cork and Derry. In addition, he was honored for his impact as chairman of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City — Lahey was instrumental in allowing LGBTQ groups to march in the parade for the first time — and for his support of education for Irish-Americans at Quinnipiac.