On Wednesday, 24th October, a reception was held at the Freemasons’ Hall, Tuckey Street, Cork, to mark the election of Kenneth Nicholls, retired senior lecturer at the department of history, University College Cork, to the position of a vice-president of the Irish Genealogical Research Society. The position of vice-president is purely honorary and the Society currently has eight, which includes such prominent genealogists as Julian Walton, Mary Casteleyn, Roz McCutcheon and Paul Gorry.
The honour was given in recognition of Mr Nicholls’ long years of service and advocacy to Irish genealogy and history. He is the foremost authority on medieval Irish genealogy. In his academic career he taught history at University College Cork. His Gaelic and Gaelicised Ireland in the Middle Ages (first published in 1972; with a revised edition published in 2003) was an acclaimed pioneering work that shone a light on the autonomous areas of Gaelic Ireland in the late medieval period.
He is the last remaining member of the small group of Irish-based members of the IGRS who in 1967 began what evolved into the Society’s Ireland Branch. As long ago as 1978 he was awarded the Fellowship of the Society.
Speakers at the reception included Society president, Fergus Gillespie, the former Chief Herald of Ireland; Society chairman Steven Smyrl (acting as MC); vice-president, Julian Walton and Dr Paul McCotter. We were welcomed to the Freemasons’ Hall by Dr David Butler, who doubles up as both the provincial librarian and archivist for the Freemasons and editor of the Society’s annual journal, The Irish Genealogist.
In congratulating Mr Nicholls on his election, Fergus Gillespie spoke about his work on untangling the medieval Gaelic genealogies and referencing in particular his groundbreaking published work on Gaelic Ireland in the medieval period. Julian Walton spoke with deep warmth of his long years of friendship with Kenneth and about how they once collaborated in the sorting and cataloging of a haul of assorted 16th and 17th century documents. Paul McCotter, described Kenneth as one of his most important mentors, painting a picture of Kenneth as a man whose friendship might not easily be won, but once gained, is easily retained.
The Society is very pleased to have been able to recognise Mr Nicholls’ unique contribution to the study and promotion of Irish genealogy over the past 60 years.
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