The University of Limerick today thanked George Cunningham for his contributions to the University and the Glucksman Library.
UL President, Professor Don Barry thanked George for his contributions to UL in saying; "You have been a true friend to the University of Limerick. You have been so generous with your time, guidance and your counsel over the years. You helped to establish this Library from the ground up and your commitment to the project ensured that it would be filled with the finest of books. Your legacy will live on through the generations of graduates who have benefited from the literary treasures that reside within the walls of the Special Collection department here at UL."
Writer, antiquarian, conservationist, scholar, book collector, lecturer, editor, publisher, George was a student at St Flannan's College, Ennis, after which he qualified as a primary school teacher from St Patrick's College, Drumcondra in 1961. He was appointed to the post of principal at Coolderry National School, Roscrea, Co Tipperary where he gave service until 1987. He also holds a Masters of Literature from Trinity College on the Anglo-Norman Advance into the South-West Midlands of Ireland, 1182-1221 which was published in 1987.
Over the years George has been prominently associated with the saving and restoration of Damer House, Roscrea, and founded there, in 1980, Ireland's first Heritage Centre and Roscrea Heritage Society of which he remains life president and honorary life member. Since 1974 George edited and published Roscrea People; the 37th issue will be published in December 2009.
Pictured L-R: UL President, Professor Don Barry, George Cunningham, Director, Library and Information Services, ULGobnait O'Riordain, UL Chancellor Peter Malone
Irish bibliography and book collecting, heritage tourism and local studies are among his main research interests and he was elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 2008. He has also lectured all over Ireland on all aspects of history, archaeology, architecture, natural history, landscape, bibliography, literature and literary figures.
Over the last 17 years George has made a tremendous contribution to UL. However it was to be his dedication to the UL Library for which he is most fondly known. From his earliest days on Governing Authority George championed and provided focus for the development of a library and worked diligently on the Library Building Committee to ensure its success which we saw come to fruition with the opening of the Glucksman Library and Information Services Building in 1998.
Satisfied that we now had a building of exceptional standard George commenced work on filling it. He was instrumental in UL's acquisition of many important collections and archives. The most significant of which was the Norton Collection which became the founding collection of the Special Collections Department. Then followed by the Mc Anally Collection, the acquisition of which further reinforced the status of the National Centre for Tourism Policy Studies (NCTPS) at UL as being Ireland's leading research institution in all facets of Irish tourism research and policy.
Other collections he assisted us in securing included the manuscripts and archives of Maurice Walsh, the Moyalliffe Archive and The Deeny Collection. George has also very generously donated thousands of his own books to the library.
During his time at UL George has also been dedicated in his support of the Bolton Library in Cashel and provided the University with an opportunity to play a significant role in the preservation of this significant national treasure.