UL honours its ‘inspiring’ alumni

THREE men distinguished in the diverse fields of rugby, computing and aeronautics have received this year’s University of Limerick alumni awards.

THREE men distinguished in the diverse fields of rugby, computing and aeronautics have received this year’s University of Limerick alumni awards.

This annual event celebrates the outstanding achievements of graduates of UL, and for the first time, the awards celebration was held on campus at the new Pavilion development on the Clare side of the campus. Honours this year were bestowed upon rugby legend Tony Ward; the vice president of Analog Devices Richard Meaney, a Limerick native, and Dr Pio Fitzgerald, who has been named boeing commercial engineer of the year.

Tony Ward won 19 caps for Ireland between 1978 and 1987 while he played a pivotal role in Munster’s 1978 famous win over the All-Blacks. But sporting glory aside, the Dublin-born man said of his time in UL: “Without fear of contradiction, those were the best four years of my life.”

Dr Pio Fitzgerald, from Killarney, graduated from UL in 1999 with an honours degree in aeronautical engineering. In recognition of his work, he was named Boeing Commercial Airplanes Engineer of the Year for 2010, beating thousands of other Boeing engineers from around the world for the prestigious honour.

Following his earlier education at CBS Sexton Street, Richard (Dick) Meaney graduated from NIHE (UL) in 1979 with a BSc Electronic Systems. He joined Analog Devices Limerick as a graduate design engineer, and is now vice president of the company, in charge of the core oroducts and technologies group. The company employs over 9,000 people worldwide and had sales of $3 billion last year.

Speaking at the gala dinner, UL president professor Don Barry said these recipients are “three great ambassadors for the University of Limerick and their achievements are an inspiration to all of us.”

Prof Barry said the awards enables UL to “celebrate the generations of UL graduates who have played a leading role in building Ireland’s reputation at home and abroad and celebrate the lifelong value of a UL education.”

Since its inception in 2006, 20 UL alumni have been honoured at this annual celebration including former Riverdance star Jean Butler, former chief executive of the Kentz Corporation Hugh O’Donnell, and former All-Ireland Kerry footballer Pat Spillane.

For more pictures from the ceremony, see page 18