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Presidential Distinguished Service Award

2017 PDSA Awardees

About the Award

The Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad is presented by the President every year. It recognises the service given to this country or to Irish communities abroad by those who live outside Ireland.

The Award is not an honours system. It doesn’t give the recipients any legal entitlements or benefits, including Irish citizenship.

About the nominees

Whether they’re Irish citizens, entitled to Irish citizenship or from an Irish background, the hard work, energy and dedication of nominees make a valuable contribution to people’s lives and are deserving of our thanks and respect.

Who can be nominated?

Only people who live outside the island of Ireland can be nominated for the Award. They must have:

  • Given distinguished service to Ireland and/or its reputation abroad
  • Contributed to Ireland and/or its international reputation and/or Irish communities abroad in at least one of the categories listed below
  • Supported and engaged with Ireland and/or its international reputation and/or Irish communities abroad for at least five years

While the scheme is open to all people living abroad, it is primarily aimed at Irish citizens, those entitled to Irish citizenship and persons of Irish descent, who have made a sustained and distinguished service to Ireland or Irish communities abroad.

Who decides on the nominations?

Nominations for the Award are made through our Embassy network, and are considered by a High Level Panel. The Panel recommends up to a total of 10 people every year from these nominations. The categories under which individuals can be nominated are:

  • Arts, Culture and Sport;
  • Business and Education;
  • Charitable Works;
  • Irish Community Support;
  • Peace, Reconciliation and Development;
  • Science, Technology and Innovation (additional category introduced in 2016).

The Panel then submits its recommendations to the Government for approval.

2017 PDSA gallery

2017 PDSA video

2016 PDSA video

2016 PDSA gallery

2015 PDSA video

2015 PDSA gallery

2014 PDSA video

2014 PDSA gallery

2013 PDSA video

2013 PDSA gallery

2012 PDSA video

2012 PDSA gallery

The concept

The Award is based on the concept of an open door, which leads to the landscape of Ireland. This captures the welcoming nature of both the Irish people and Ireland as a nation.


Making the Award

The award is made from Irish hardwoods and other locally-sourced materials, using a combination of modern and traditional technologies at Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology Letterfrack.

The designers

The award was designed by Spear Product Design, an award-winning, multidisciplinary design studio based in Dublin.

2017 Awards

The 2017 Award ceremony took place in Áras an Uachtaráin on 30 November 2017.  The Awardees are:

Arts, Culture and Sport
Liam Neeson (US)
Bernard Canavan (Britain)

Business and Education
Patricia Harty (US)

Charitable Works
Denis Mulcahy (US)
Mary T. Murphy (Ethiopia)

Irish Community Support
Hideki Mimura (Japan)
Jacqueline O’Donovan (Britain)

Peace, Reconciliation and Development
John de Chastelain (Canada)
Marianne Elliott (Britain)

Science, Technology and Innovation
William Campbell (US)

2016 Awards

The 2016 Award ceremony took place in Áras an Uachtaráin on 8 December 2016. The Awardees are:

Arts, Culture and Sport
Angela Brady (UK)
Terry Wogan (Deceased - UK) - presented posthumously

Business and Education
Robert G. Kearns (Canada)
Gerald Lawless (UAE)

Charitable Works
Norman P. McClelland (US)

Irish Community Support
Nora Higgins (UK)
Brendan Fay (US)
Kathleen Walsh D'Arcy (US)

Peace, Reconciliation and Development
Martin von Hildebrand Mulcahy (Colombia)
Sr Mary D. Sweeney (Sierra Leone)

Science, Technology and Innovation
Garret A. FitzGerald (US)

2015 Awards

The 2015 Award ceremony took place in Áras an Uachtaráin on 3 December 2015 and honoured the following people:

Arts, Culture and Sport
Gabriel Byrne (US)
Mario Vargas Llosa (Peru)

Business and Education
Fr. Donal Doyle (Tokyo)
Niall FitzGerald (UK)
Charles Handy (UK)

Charitable Works
Sr. Miriam Duggan (Kenya)

Irish Community Support
Fr. Brendan McBride (US)
Maureen O’Rourke Murphy (US)

Peace, Reconciliation and Development
Gareth Peirce (UK)
Tom Moran (US)

2014 Awards

In October 2014 the following people received the Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad:

Arts, Culture and Sport
Fionnula Flanagan (US)
Thomas Keneally (Australia)

Charitable Works
Fr. PJ McGlinchey (Korea)

Business and Education
Jim Flaherty (deceased, Canada) - presented posthumously
Catherine Day (EC)
Colm McLoughlin (UAE)

Irish Community Support
Mary Allen (Britain)
Avril Conroy (Russia)

Peace, Reconciliation and Development
Niall O’Dowd (US)
Kevin Cahill (US)

2013 Awards

In November 2013 the following people received the Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad:

Arts, Culture and Sport
Mick Moloney (US)

Charitable Works
Anne Merriman (Uganda)
Sr Cyril Mooney (India)

Business and Education
Craig Barrett (US)
John Martin (France)

Irish Community Support
Mary Tilki (UK)
Seamus McGarry (UK)
Rodney Walshe (New Zealand)

Peace, Reconciliation and Development
George Mitchell (US)
Dan Rooney (US)

2012 Awards

In November 2012 the following people received the Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad:

Arts, Culture and Sport
Pat Kelly (Canada)
Pierre Joannon (France)
Jim Stynes (deceased, Australia) presented posthumously

Business and Education
Donald Keough (US)
Andy Rogers (UK)

Charitable Works
Chuck Feeney (US)

Irish Community Support
Sally Mulready (UK)
Sr Lena Deevy (US)

Peace, Reconciliation and Development
Fr Michael Kelly (Zambia)
Loretta Brennan Glucksman (US)

Nominations for the Presidential Distinguished Service Award are made through Ireland’s embassy network.

The nomination

Send the completed nomination form to the Irish Embassy of the country where your nominee lives

PDSA 2017 - Nomination Form (Download to complete, as fields may not save in your browser)

Make sure your nomination includes:

1. The category under which the nomination is being made
2. Details of your nominee’s background and the contribution they have made to Ireland, Irish communities abroad or Ireland’s international reputation.

Contacting the Embassy

See a full list of Irish Embassies and their contact details.

Please note that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is covered by the Irish Freedom of Information Act 2014.

Closing date

The 2017 nomination process is now closed.

Successful nominees will be announced in September 2017.

See the full selection of videos and galleries at our YouTube Presidential Distinguished Service Awards Playlist