2024 Alumni Awards Gala Banquet and Presentation

On Friday, May 10th, University of Galway welcomed the eight 2024 Alumni Award winners to campus to receive their awards at the annual Gala attended by 300 guests. The Award winners are: James Murphy, Heather Boyle, Caitriona Walsh, Dermot Phelan, Jack O'Meara, Maureen Kennelly, Shawan Jabarin and Diarmuid De Faoite.

Thank you to our sponsors—Bank of Ireland, Medtronic, and RDJ LLP—for their support, and to alumni, colleagues, guests, and friends who joined us to celebrate these remarkable graduates.









Alumni Award for Business and Commerce - Sponsored by Bank of Ireland 
James Murphy – CEO, Lifes2good

James Murphy
Founder and CEO of Lifes2good James Murphy was born in Galway and attended St. Jarlath’s College in Tuam, graduated from the University with a Bachelor of Commerce, and qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1986. James then moved to Brussels where he worked for Coopers & Lybrand (currently Price Waterhouse Coopers) and spent five years working between Belgium and Luxembourg. Returning to Ireland in 1991 he joined BMR-Slendertone where, as part of the management team he built a successful brand and business, before embarking on his own venture in 1997, to start up Lifes2good.

Under James’ leadership, Lifes2good has grown from a small distribution company in the west of Ireland to a global enterprise. He championed a marketing model comprising of direct sales to consumers through database and internet marketing in addition to selling into pharmacy chains and health stores. James made the company’s first acquisition in the UK in 2003. In 2007 he acquired the Viviscal brand when this business had a turnover of €700k. The company continued to grow with further expansion throughout Europe and the US.

The Lifes2good business expanded worldwide with offices in Ireland, UK, USA, Canada, Australia, and Portugal. The Viviscal business grew to €50m turnover in 2016 and in January 2017, Lifes2good successfully sold the Viviscal brand to the US Conglomerate, Church & Dwight, for €150m.

James Murphy, along with his wife Maria Murphy, holds a position on the Board of the Lifes2good Foundation. This foundation invests in organisations with the potential to create positive change in people's lives. Initially, the emphasis was on supporting initiatives that empower and educate women and children. Their current focus has shifted towards addressing climate change and environmental issues.

Alumni Award for Arts, Literature and Celtic Studies
Maureen Kennelly – Director at The Arts Council

Maureen Kennelly
Maureen Kennelly
is originally from Ballylongford in Co Kerry and was Director of Poetry Ireland before being appointed Director of the Arts Council. Over a three-decade career in the arts sector, she has led many of Ireland's vibrant arts organisations including the Kilkenny Arts Festival, Fishamble Theatre Company, Mermaid Arts Centre and the Cúirt International Festival of Literature. She is a member of the Expert Advisory Committee of Culture Ireland and formerly a member of the Governing Body of University College Cork. She was a three time member of the Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards judging panel. Her work in the arts has had a specific focus on making enduring connections between the public and Ireland's most exciting artists. 


Alumni Award for Engineering, Science and Technology
Caitriona Walsh – Country President and Managing Director, Novartis Ireland

Caitriona Walsh
Caitriona Walsh
studied Biotechnology at University before completing her PhD in Immunology in Trinity College Dublin. Caitriona joined Novartis in 2006, holding several medical, marketing and sales roles in Novartis Ireland, before moving to Novartis Headquarters in Switzerland and working in a number of roles as Region Europe Brand Director and Head of Business Operations and Strategic Projects.  Prior to joining Novartis Ireland as Country President in September 2022, she was part of the Novartis UK Leadership Team, leading the global development of new drugs and indication in Immunology, Neuroscience and Ophthalmology. She has given invited keynote addresses at various events promoting women in leadership and is an excellent role model for young women and girls interested in STEM careers.

Alumni Award for Law, Public Policy and Society - Sponsored by RDJ
Shawan Jabarin - General Director of Al-Haq

Shawan Jabarin
Shawan Jabarin
is a Palestinian human rights defender, General Director of the Palestinian human rights organisation Al-Haq, and a member of Human Rights Watch Middle East Advisory Board. He was Amnesty International's first Palestinian Prisoner of Conscience, and he has worked for years promoting human rights in the face of Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories. From 2005 to 2009, Shawan was a member of the Board of Directors of Défense for Children International - Palestine, the national section of the Geneva-based Défense for Children International, and was elected vice president of the International Federation for Human Rights in May 2013. He is the recipient of many honours and awards for his human rights advocacy work, and leadership of Al-Haq.

Alumni Award for Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences - Sponsored by Medtronic
Dermot Phelan - Former Consultant in Intensive Care Medicine, Mater Hospital and Associate Professor, UCD

Dermot Phelan
Dr Dermot Phelan
is regarded as the father of Intensive Care Medicine. He graduated in Medicine from the University in 1974 and trained in Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine in Australia and Ireland, returning permanently to Ireland in 1985 when he was appointed to a consultant post in Anaesthesia and Intensive Care at the Mater Misericordiae Hospital, Dublin. This was the first consultant post in Ireland with a dedicated commitment to Intensive Care Medicine. Throughout his career he has been a key figure in the development and recognition of Intensive Care Medicine in Ireland and in Europe. He spearheaded the development of Intensive Care Medicine as a distinct specialty in Ireland. He was a foundation member and first president of the Intensive Care Society of Ireland, the first chairman of the conjoint board of the Irish Board of Intensive Care Medicine and served as Dean of the Joint Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine of Ireland from 2012-2014, and served as chairperson of the Education Committee of the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine.

Gradam Alumni don Ghaeilge
Diarmuid de Faoite – Writer, Actor, Director

Diarmuid de Faoite
Diarmuid de Faoite
is a dramatist from Ennis, Co Clare, and holds a Bachelor of Science in Botany and a Higher Diploma in Aquaculture from the University, as well as an MA in Dramatherapy from Roehampton University. He previously worked as Executive for the Performing Arts in the Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge, University of Galway. Diarmuid writes and performs across all media, in English and Irish, as well as facilitating, producing and coaching, and has performed locally, nationally and internationally. His latest feature film work includes ‘Foscadh’ (2021); ‘Arracht’ (2020); ‘Finky’ (2019) and Black 47 (2018). He narrated the award-winning series, An Bhoireann (TG4, 2020) and was nominated for an IFTA for his role in the Corp+Anam series (TG4, 2011-2013). He is a member of IFTA (writing chapter) as well as ICAT (Creative Arts Therapists) and has received the Duala Award from Clare Arts Office/ITMA, the Arts Council Theatre Development Award and Sparánacht Ealaín na Gaeltachta.

Alumni Award for Contribution to Sport
Heather Boyle – Former International Rower & Cyclist. Communications and Athletes Commission Lead at the Olympic Federation of Ireland

Heather Boyle
Heather Boyle's
impactful journey in sports and communications spans over a decade. After graduating from the University with a degree in English, Sociology, and Politics, she began her career balancing work with her own sporting endeavours, notably as an International Rower representing Ireland. Despite narrowly missing qualifying for the Athens Olympics in 2004, Heather's passion for sports remained steadfast. Transitioning into communications, she accrued nine years of experience at Cycling Ireland. Heather furthered her academic pursuits with a Master's in Equality Studies from UCD, focusing on gender disparities in sports participation. Heather's commitment to promoting inclusivity in sports extends beyond academia; she has contributed to the media teams for the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. Currently serving as the Head of Communications and Athletes Commission Support at the Olympic Federation of Ireland, she leads a team dedicated to amplifying the stories of athletes and the games, notably in preparation for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

Alumni Award for Emerging Leader
Jack O’Meara – CEO, Ochre Bio

Jack O'Meara
Jack O’Meara
was named in the 2023 Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe list for his work with Ochre Bio, which he co-founded in 2019 and is currently CEO of. He earned his undergraduate degrees in Biomedical Engineering at the University and Purdue University prior to becoming an alumnus of the University of Notre Dame’s ESTEEM Graduate Program. Based in Oxford, England, Ochre Bio is developing RNA therapies for chronic liver diseases using a combination of deep phenotyping, precision RNA medicine and testing in live human donor livers. Chronic liver disease is the only top 10 global health threat on the rise and Jack O’Meara’s goal is to discover how to treat diseased livers while still inside the patient and avoid the need for liver transplants. Ochre Bio has established three partner sites in Connecticut, New York and Oklahoma which accept donor livers not suitable for transplant. Itkeeps them alive in special machines and then uses them to test the therapies Ochre Bio designs in England.

These awards celebrate outstanding individuals among the University's 131,000 alumni, recognising their remarkable accomplishments across various fields on both local and global scales.

Initiated in 2000, the programme boasts an impressive roll call of 141 outstanding graduates who have gone on to honour their alma mater including the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins; Ireland’s first female Attorney General, Máire Whelan; Irish Olympians, Olive Loughnane and Paul Hession; Actors Marie Mullen and Nicola Coughlan; Irish Rugby International Ciarán Fitzgerald; RTÉ broadcaster, Seán O’Rourke and many more.

Roll of Honour - Alumni Award for Arts, Literature and Celtic Studies

2023 - Ray Burke
2022 - Tom Kenny
2021 - Nicola Coughlan
2019 - Fiona Mitchell
2018 - Lisa Coen
2017 - Mike McCormack
2016 - Siobhán Ní Ghadhra
2015 - Dr Thomas Mitchell
2014 - Norah Gibbons 
2013 - Joyce McGreevy
2012 - Dr Marie Mullen
2011 - John Walshe
2010 - Gerard Donovan
2009 - Dr Brendan O’Connor
2008 - Julian Gough
2007 - Séan O’ Rourke
2006 - Dr Pat Wallace
2005 - John Coll
2004 - Dr Michael D. Higgins
2003 - Sean McGinley
2002 - Eddie Lenihan

Roll of Honour - Alumni Award for Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences

2023 - Dr Dapo Odumeru
2022 - Dr Marie Healy
2021 - Dr Colm Henry
2019 - Dr Ronan Waldron
2018 - Professor Declan Sugrue
2017 - Dr Eileen Naughten
2016 - Professor Joe Murray
2015 - Dr Morgan O’Connell
2014 - Professor Ray Dolan
2013 - Professor Mary D’Alton
2012 - Professor Tim O’ Brien
2011 - Dr Brian Griffin
2010 - Professor Rose Anne Kenny
2009 - Professor Michael O’ Brien
2008 - Dr Frank J. Giles
2007 - Professor Patrick J. Gullane
2006 - Professor Donald P. McDonnell
2005 - Professor Orla Conneely
2004 - Professor Fred Given
2003 - Professor Maurice Manning
2002 - Professor Luke Clancy
2001 - Dr Jerry Cowley

Roll of Honour - Alumni Award for Business and Commerce

2023 - Jim Clarken
2022 - Ger Rabbette
2021 - Áine Ní Chonghaile
2019 - Dómhnal Slattery
2018 - Aedhmar Hynes
2017 - Tara McCarthy
2016 - Ruth Curran
2015 - Catriona O’Farrell
2014 - Dr Helen Ryan
2013 - Adrian Jones
2012 - Máire Whelan
2011 - Gabriel D’Arcy
2010 - Margaret Sweeney
2009 - Michael Higgins
2008 - Brian Joyce
2007 - Irial Finan
2006 - Maria Mahon
2005 - Declan Kelly
2004 - Dr Ronan Lambe
2003 - Pádraig Ó Céidigh
2002 - Hugh Friel
2001 - Michael Maloney

Roll of Honour - Alumni Award for Engineering, Science and Technology

2023 - Professor Oliver O'Reilly
2022 - Mark Butler
2021 - Professor Mark Costello
2019 - Dr John Lyons
2018 - Bernard McGuinness
2017 - Anne-Marie Farrell
2016 - Gearóid Faherty
2015 - Pearse Mee
2014 - Michael McNicholas
2013 - Hugh O’Donnell
2012 - Gerard Kilcommins
2011 - Mike Conroy
2010 - Dr Brian Moran
2009 - Finian O’ Sullivan
2008 - John Ryan
2007 - Patrick and Thomas Coffey
2006 - Noel Fogarty
2005 - Anne Butler
2004 - Tom Costello
2003 - John McGowan
2002 - Dr Áine Brazil
2001 - Eamon Corcoran

Roll of Honour - Alumni Award for Law, Public Policy, and Society

2023 - Major General Maureen O'Brien
2022 - Mary-Ellen McGroarty
2021 - Antoinette Cunningham
2019 - Grainne McMorrow
2018 - Pat Rabbitte
2017 - Dr Tom Courtney
2016 - The Hon. Chief Justice Dr Mathilda Twomey
2015 - The Hon. Ms. Justice Carmel Stewart
2009 - Dr John Hegarty
2008 - Séamus Brennan 
2007 - Brian O’Donnell
2006 - The Hon. Ms. Justice Mary Faherty
2005 - Cardinal Wilfrid Napier
2004 - Dr Eamonn Hall
2003 - Seán O’hUiginn

Roll of Honour - Alumni Award for Contribution to Sport

2023 - Tony Regan
2022 - Aifric Keogh
2021 - John Prenty
2019 - Prof. Michael Molloy
2018 - Joe Connolly
2017 - Dr Deirdre Mongan & Dr Eoghan Clifford
2016 - Dr Paul Hession
2015 - Olive Loughnane
2011 - Colm Murray
2009 - Ciaran Fitzgerald
2008 - Joe McDonagh

Roll of Honour - Gradam Alumni don Ghaeilge

2023 - Máirín Ní Ghadhra
2022 - Ré Ó Laighléis
2021 - Neansaí Ní Choisdealbha
2019 - Póilín Ní Chiaráin
2018 - Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh
2012 - Peadar Mac An Iomaire
2010 - Pádraig Ó hAoláin
2009 - Pádraig Ó Ceithearnaigh
2008 - Gráinne Seoige
2007 - Mairéad Ní Nuadháin
2006 - Máire Mhic Uidhir
2005 - Dáithí Mac Cárthaigh
2004 - Pádraigh Firtéar

Roll of Honour - Alumni Award for Emerging Leaders

2023 - Geraldine Lavelle
2022 - Catherine Ludden

Roll of Honour - Alumni Award for Science (Previous Category)

2014 - Professor Gerard Jennings
2013 - Dr Seamus Kavanagh
2012 - Professor Fergal O’ Gara
2011 - Dr Gerald Farrell
2010 - Dr Paul Duffy
2009 - Dr Catherine Caulfield
2008 - Dr Peter Heffernan
2007 - Dr Reg Shaw
2006 - Professor Frank Gannon
2005 - Professor Frank Imbusch
2004 - Professor Emer Colleran