Alumni Award Recipients
Acclaimed Irish artist Alice Maher, successful Entrepreneur Kieran Curran and award-winning Cork Camogie star Anna Geary honoured at UL Alumni Awards.
The University of Limerick Alumni Association (ULAA) has bestowed the Association’s highest honour on three of the University’s outstanding graduates at the 10th Annual UL Alumni Awards Gala Dinner on Saturday, 7 November.
This annual event celebrates the outstanding achievements of Graduates of the University of Limerick and this year is no exception with three UL alumni, acclaimed Irish artist Alice Maher (BA in European Studies ’78), Entrepreneur, Founder and CEO of BD-GenCell Kieran Curran (BEng in Mechanical Engineering’02 & PhD ‘05), and award-winning former Cork Camogie Captain Anna Geary (Bachelor in Business Studies ’09) being honoured.
The 2015 UL Alumni Awards celebration took place at Dromoland Castle and was attended by over 220 guests from the University, business and wider community. This black-tie event was made possible through the generous support of Headline Sponsor, Bank of Ireland and local Event Partners: Analog Devices Ireland (ADI), GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS), Hays Recruitment, Hogan Dowling McNamara (HDM) Solicitors, and Stryker Ireland.
Speaking at the UL Alumni Awards Gala Dinner, UL President Professor Don Barry said “There is nothing more rewarding than seeing our graduates succeed and nothing more joyful than celebrating with them that success. The Alumni Awards have really given us at UL the chance to say “Go raibh mile maith agat” to each of our honourees. Thank you for representing our University so professionally throughout your careers. You have made us incredibly proud and we are delighted for this opportunity to honour you.”
Since its inception in 2006, thirty-one UL alumni have now been honoured at this annual awards celebration including rugby legend Tony Ward, composer Patrick Cassidy, CEO & President (EMEA) of Kerry Ingredients Eoin O’Connell, former Riverdance star Jean Butler, former Chief Executive of the Kentz Corporation Dr Hugh O’Donnell, Boeing Commercial Engineer of the Year Dr Pio Fitzgerald, former All-Ireland Kerry Footballer Pat Spillane, entrepreneur & CEO of Dairymaster Dr Edmond Harty and former Chief of Staff of the Irish Defence Forces, the late Lt. Gen. Dermot Earley.
Alice Maher is one of Ireland’s foremost contemporary artists, producing iconic art works which contribute greatly to national and international cultural narratives. Alice was one of the first group of students to take European Studies at UL in 1974, where she was exposed to European culture, philosophy and languages as her own country began to experience the convulsions of profound societal change.
Alice began her formal art studies in 1985 at the Crawford College of Art in Cork, went on to receive an MFA from University of Ulster in 1986, and was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to the San Francisco Art Institute the following year. In 1994, Alice represented Ireland at the Sao Paolo Biennale, in the same year she opened her first major solo show 'Familiar', in Ireland at the Douglas Hyde gallery in Dublin, bursting fully formed onto both international and national stages simultaneously. In 1996, she worked in France for a time and was also elected to Aosdana.
Her solo exhibitions include the Dublin City Gallery the Hugh Lane, The Galway Arts Centre, Orchard Gallery Derry, Limerick City Gallery of Art, the Project Arts Centre Dublin, The Lewis Glucksman Gallery at UCC and the RHA Dublin, while Alice’s self-portrait hangs among the National Self-Portrait Colleciton at UL. In 2012, the Irish Museum of Modern Art dedicated a retrospective exhibition to her 30 year practice so far. 'Becoming: Alice Maher' extended over 15 rooms of installations and films, and was one of the most visited shows of the museums history as it mapped the vast range of this artist’s cultural contribution.
In 2012, Alice was presented with an Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts by the National University of Ireland. She continues to work and live in Ireland and in 2016, she exhibited her film 'Cassandra's Necklace' at EVA International in Limerick.
Kieran Curran was the founder and CEO of GenCell Biosystems. He is currently Director of Genomics, Ireland at BD-GenCell.
He graduated from UL in 2002 with a Bachelor of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering and in 2005 with a Ph.D. Kieran then spent 3 years at Stokes Bio which exposed him to the full gambit of the start-up experience. As an inventor of the company’s core Liquid Bridge Technology, he participated in the design, development and commercialization of an innovative approach to genetic testing.
Aged 25, Kieran founded Curran Scientific as a specialist provider of engineering solutions. There, he led a team of engineers to provide design, test and manufacturing assistance to multi-national medical device companies. The desire for independent and novel technology development, however, never went away. In 2011, Kieran took the profits from Curran Scientific and invested them in a new venture called GenCell Biosystems.
Over the next 4 years, Kieran led GenCell as CEO to develop best-in-class robotic genetic testing systems. With applications as broad as helping to improve human, animal and plant health - GenCell’s technology is helping researchers to explore the complexity of DNA at unprecedented speed and detail. In its 4 years of existence, the company has become a go-to partner for biotech industry leaders along with academic and public institutions worldwide. In 2014, its technical performance was noticed and Becton Dickinson and Company (BD), a global medical technology leader, acquired the company. Currently employing over 80 people at its Raheen facility, BD-GenCell is looking forward to a bright future supported by Limerick’s extraordinary talent base.
Kieran’s credits his interest in business to his late mother Alice who took the reins of family business, Curran Aluminium when Kieran’s father passed away. With a young family, Alice possessed the drive, resilience and enthusiasm to grow a business in the male-dominated construction industry right up until her death in 2014.
At 28, Anna Geary’s sporting career has earned her many rewards including 4 senior all Ireland medals with Cork and 2 senior club all Irelands titles with Milford. She had the privilege of captaining Cork in 2013 & 2014 during which time they brought back 2 Munster titles, a National League title (2013) along with the O’Duffy All Ireland Cup in 2014.
Anna also has 4 coveted All Star Awards and numerous individual awards including: 2014 AIB “The Toughest” Munster Senior Club Player of the Year; Overall 96fm & 103fm Sportsperson of the Year Award 2014; Cork Person of the Month Award 2014; The Irish Times Sportswoman of the Month for September 2014; Irish Examiner Young Sports Star of the Year award in 2005.
Anna Geary graduated from UL in 2009 with a Bachelor of Business Studies Degree. While a student, Anna won a fresher title in her first year as well as her first Ashbourne Cup. She was also chosen at wing back position on the Team of the Tournament. In 2006, she went on to be awarded “A Contribution to Sport” accolade by the President of UL and also received Presidential Letters for academic achievement during her time at UL. Furthermore, Anna was chosen to be a recipient of a National Camogie Association Bursary in ‘05/’06 and ‘06/’07.
When Anna lived in Luxembourg in 2008 for her 3rd year Co-Op placement as part of her degree, she was subsequently chosen as the Irish Ambassador for the Youth on the Move Campaign. This was a European Commission based project, established in 2010 with an aim to improve young people’s education and employability prospects.
Following her retirement in 2015, Anna moved to Dublin to pursue a career in media and journalism and has worked with Radio 1 and with RTE on ‘The Sunday Game’ as a sports analyst and also as a coach on the Ireland’s Fittest Family series. She was recently named on the ‘Sport for Business’ list of “50 Most Influential Women in Irish Sport 2015” and remains committed to being an ambassador for Camogie and a driver of change in perceptions regarding women in sport.