Irish History: Volume XIX
Irish Nobel Laureates, Part 2
We’re back with the second half (and then some) of Ireland’s Nobel laureates (if you missed part 1, check it out here.)
Seán MacBride: Peace, 1974
MacBride was born in 1904 in Paris, but his Irish heritage and his father’s death in the struggle for Irish liberation led to him joining the IRA by the age of 13. He parted ways with the IRA in the 1930s (though he continued to use his law degree to helped defend members,) and went on to receive his prize "for his efforts to secure and develop human rights throughout the world." MacBride served as an Irish politician in a variety of roles throughout his life, but was also a member of the United Nations, the International Peace Bureau, and founded Amnesty International, among other peace-keeping efforts.
Mairead Maguire and Betty Williams: Peace, 1976
Together, Maguire and Williams founded the Northern Ireland Peace Movement (later renamed Community of Peace People,) and shared their award "for the courageous efforts in founding a movement to put an end to the violent conflict in Northern Ireland." The only women on this list, both were born in Belfast in the early 1940s, they spearheaded the women’s peace movement, drawing women of disparate communities together to protest the violence they were living in the midst of. Their efforts have been credited in reducing the death toll by half.
Seamus Heaney: Literature, 1995
Heaney, the eldest of nine children raised in County Derry, was born in 1939 and is one of the major poets of the 20th century. The committee gave Heaney his award, after his lifetime work of over 20 volumes of poetry and criticism that explored both modern and mythic Ireland, "for works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth, which exalt everyday miracles and the living past." Heaney collected innumerable accolades throughout his life and taught at both Harvard and Oxford--learn more about his work in our post about contemporary Irish poets.
John Hume and David Trimble: Peace, 1998
Both from Northern Ireland, Hume and Trimble share their prize, awarded "for their efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict in Northern Ireland." Hume was a Londonderry-born politician who was not only the leader of the Social and Democratic Labour Party in Northern Ireland, but served as a minister in British Parliament, the European Parliament, and the Northern Ireland Assembly. Belfast-born Trimble was the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party and a member of British Parliament—and together the two men helped broker the Good Friday Agreement, a multiparty peace accord that helped stop the violence that plagued Northern Ireland.
William C. Campbell: Physiology or Medicine, 2015
Our most recent Irish Nobel laureate, Ramelton-born Campbell, received his award for looking to solve problems further abroad than his home country, specifically “for their discoveries concerning a novel therapy against infections caused by roundworm parasites.” Along with his colleagues (his award is shared,) Campbell looked for an easier cure for diseases that largest affect the most impoverished countries on earth (roundworm parasites can cause blindness, along with chronic and disfiguring swelling.) Campbell’s treatment consists of an oral pill that paralyses and destroys the worm, and he even helped persuade his institute, Merck, to donate large amounts of the medicine through the WHO.
Though Ireland didn’t win any awards in the 2021 ceremony, keep an eye out for 2022—the Irish have a lot more to give the world!
This post is part of a series. Read our last Irish history post, all about the phrase "the luck of the Irish," here. Check out the blog every Monday and Thursday for more posts about Irish history, dance culture, community news, and spotlights on our dancers, staff, and families—among other fun projects! And don’t forget to dance along with us on both Facebook and Instagram.
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