WATCH: University of Limerick honours author Marian Keyes and activist Bob Geldof

WORLD-renowned musician and activist Bob Geldof and one of Ireland’s most successful authors Marian Keyes were awarded Honorary Doctorates of Letters at University of Limerick this Monday afternoon.

Both eminent figures, who received the awards as part of the annual winter conferring ceremonies, had been guest speakers at a major conference during the Creative Writing Festival at UL last summer.

UL president Des Fitzgerald congratulated both Dr Keyes and Dr Geldof on their achievements, both of whom are no strangers to Limerick.

Miriam, who has sold an estimated 35 million books, was born on Patrick’s Road in Limerick city, and Mr Geldof has visited Limerick on a number occasions since the take-off of his music career with the famous Boomtown Rats.

Speaking to the press, Dr Geldof said he was “honoured” to receive the award.

I have been in Limerick for a couple of reasons over the last couple of years and I have, sort of, watched it come on, come on, come on. And one of the engines of that, I think, is this campus which blew me away when I came here. I thought the quality of the students here, the sort of active brains, curiosity, so I loved all that.

“So when the letter came through, of course, you’d accept it. Of course you’d be honoured. You’re looking at a man who didn’t get to primary, nevermind the Inter or the Leaving, you know? So, any of them I can pick up and go to my dead father: ‘See? See?’” he laughed.

He paid tribute to the late Dolores O’Riordan, whose one year anniversary is being marked this week. Commenting on her influence, he said The Cranberries were “central” to the indie and emo scene at the time of their success.

The humanitarian also recalled visiting Limerick when he was with the Boomtown Rats.

“I remember the Rats playing here and the last f***in’ shop we passed on the way out was a fish ‘n’ chipper with crubeens flashing in neon. I was like, Jesus, get me out of here. But that was 100 years ago, and it’s fantastic now. So, you get my drift. When I say that I am overwhelmed by people here and nice, it’s true,” he said.

Dr Keyes, whose Limerick father Ted passed away last month, said she was “incredibly honoured”. She said her father “would have been so, so proud of me”.

She also offered useful advice to those who wish to embark on writing a book.

“Stop talking about it and just do it. It’s full of cliches, all my advice, but it really is, like, 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Make time and sit down and do it. When I started writing, I had a full-time job, so it meant I got up an hour earlier every morning and I wrote for an hour before work. It means sacrificing parts of your life in order to write.

“Because I think a lot of people think that writing is magical, books are magical and they sort of write themselves. They don’t. If somebody wants to write a book, they have to write that book. People really, really dislike me when I give that advice. Expect your first attempts to be crucifying terrible. They are going to be appalling, you will die with shame. There will be such a gap between your book in your head and then what appears on the pages. Keep at it, keep revising it, keep rewriting it. That’s when the magic happens--during the hard work.”

As part of the five conferring ceremonies this week, more than 1,700 UL students graduated.

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