The President

Pro-Chancellor Inauguration David McConnell. Pic Paul Sharp/SHARPPIX

Professor David John McConnell,  B.A, Ph.D., M.R.I.A., F.Z.S.I., F.T.C.D.,  ex-Auditor, Medalist

Professor David McConnell was Librarian of the Society in 1963 and Auditor in 1964. He is a Gold Medalist and a twice winner of the prestigious Irish Times Debating Competition and winner of the Observer Mace.

In his chosen field of Genetics he specialised in Molecular Genetics and was involved in much of the revolutionary research in the 60′s and 70′s. He was instrumental in ensuring the present success of the TCD Genetics Department both as Head of Department and his current role as the Professor of Genetics.

He served as Vice-Provost for the Quarter-Centenary celebrations and has played an active role in College life.

Outside of College, his advice and knowledge is widely accepted as an authority in his chosen field. He has also served on the boards of many organisations from hospitals to the RIA. He is currently the chairman of the Irish Times Trust.

The Society is both honoured and delighted to have such an accomplished past member as its President since 2002.

Message from the President on his election


Dear Members of the Hist,

It is an honour to have been elected President of the Society. I am sure you will understand when I say that the Society has meant a very great deal to me from the time I joined in 1962 and I cannot think of a greater privilege than to become President. The Hist more or less monopolised my interests for three and a half years of my undergraduate career before Finals loomed and I had to pay full attention to the mainstream of academic life. The experience and friendships of the Hist have lasted ever since, and I was lucky to be able to extend them with succeeding generations of members when I joined the staff of the Genetics Department in 1970. I now look forward to working even more closely with the Society in the years to come and as it sees fit.

The Society is thriving. The Auditor, Alison McIntyre, has won the individual prize in The Irish Times Debating Competition. The Society is organising and participating in debates on a scale unimagined until recently. The GMB has been restored after the terrible fire. The College has signed an agreement with the Hist and the Phil confirming the rights of the Societies to their rooms and the Debating Chamber, and it has agreed to equip the north workroom with computer terminals for general student use.

The Billiard Rooms have been re-equipped and are being run by the Societies again. Gradually the Hist (and the Phil) will be able to make better and better use of the GMB restoring it to its position as a major social and political centre for students of the College.

But there are challenges for the Hist which it cannot meet without the help of the former members. In simple terms the College is not able to provide the Hist with the kind of resources it needs to take full advantage of its position as the oldest student debating society in the world and one of the most distinguished. The Society is waiting to be released from the constraints of its environment. It is my ambition to forge a much closer relationship between the current members, so full of ambition and talent, and the former members who owe so much to the experiences they had in the Society in their time.

Finally may I thank two great members of the Society for their contributions to the Society. Conor Cruise O’Brien has just retired as President. He has been a giant on the Irish political and intellectual stages, perhaps the dominant, though sadly not dominating, voice of reason in a turbulent and horrifying and miserable period in our history. R.B. McDowell, Vice-President, a distinguished historian, and like O’Brien a great orator, will be 90 years of age in 2003. Both have served the Society with great loyalty.

With very best wishes to all members of the Society, past and present.

David McConnell, BA., PhD., MRIA., FTCD., FZSI.


Vice Presidents


As well as the President, there are Vice Presidents - and their numbers vary. Since its inception, the Society has had nearly 200 Vice-Presidents, usually former members who have become public figures or stay heavily involved. However, the Society may offer this privileged position to a person who has become a regular contributor to the affairs of the Society.

The current Vice-Presidents are:

Stephen G. Harris, B.A.
Mary Theresa Winifred Robinson, M.A., LL.d., H.F.T.C.D., S.C., former Senator for Dublin University, former President of Ireland, Chancellor of Dublin University.
Professor Gary H. Holbrook, B.A., M.A., Professor of Argumentation, Metropolitan State College Denver.
Shane P. N. Ross, B.A., ex-Record Secretary, Minister for Transport, Tourism, and Sport, Leader of th.e Indpendent Alliance. (Visit Deputy Ross’s website)
David Patrick Bernard Norris, B.A., Senator for Dublin University. (Visit Senator Norris’s website)
Dr. Mary Henry, M.D., former Senator for Dublin University.
Eric Lowry, B.A., ex-Auditor
The Hon. Mr. Justice Declan N. O. Budd, B.A., LL.B., ex-Record Secretary, Justice of the High Court
David O’Sullivan, B.A., ex-Auditor, Medallist, Ambassador of the EU to the US, former Secretary General of the European Commission
Dr. Patrick Geoghegan F.T.C.D.
Professor Ivana Bacik, Senator for the University of Dublin.
The Hon. Mr. Justice Michael Hannaex-Auditor.
Dr. Sean Barrett, Senior Lecturer in Economics, T.C.D., former Senator for the University of Dublin.
Professor David F. Fordex-Auditor, Regius Professor of Divinty at the University of Cambridge.
Mary Harneyex-Auditor, former Leader of the Progressive Democrats 1993-2006, and Tánaiste 1997-2006.
Richard Clarkeex-Record Secretary, Archbishop of Armagh
The Hon. Mr. Justice Peter Charletonex-Auditor, Justice of the Supreme Court
The Hon. Ms. Justice Iseult O’Malley, Justice of the Supreme Court
Donal Donovanex-Treasurer, former Deputy Director of the International Monetary Fund
Adrian Langanex-Auditor, PR Consultant, first Irish winner of Young European of the Year