PDSA Recipients 2022
Arts, Culture and Sport
Morgan Bullock - USA
A well-known Irish dancer from Richmond, Virginia USA, who took the internet by storm.
Morgan Bullock is popular on TikTok and other social media platforms for her videos of her Irish dancing to contemporary music, where she blends traditional Irish dance choreography with hip-hop hits to produce something truly unique and exciting. It has generated a great deal of positive attention for Irish dancing in the US and beyond.
It all started in 2020, during the early stages of the pandemic lockdown, when Morgan posted a 12 second video clip on TikTok of her Irish dance moves. It went viral and made universal news.
As a result of these videos, she was asked to join the Riverdance tour, becoming the first African-American female dancer to do so.
Katie-George Dunlevy - Britain
One of the most successful para-athletes to represent Ireland, Katie-George Dunlevy was born in London to Irish parents, Katie-George has medalled consistently in elite sport since 2014. She is a triple Paralympic cycling gold medallist and five times World Para-cycling Champion for Ireland.
While a frequent visitor to Ireland, Katie-George lives in Crawley, UK. She was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) at the age of 11 and registered blind. Making the most of her 10% vision, Katie-George took to sport excelling at swimming, rowing, and athletics and has achieved inspiring World Champion and Paralympic success.
Katie-George has competed at 3 Paralympic Games (London 2012, Rio 2016, and Tokyo 2020). To date she has collected three golds and two silvers. In addition, she has won five gold medals at the World Para-Cycling Championships as well as six silvers and one bronze in countries worldwide including Portugal, Canada, Netherlands, Italy, Brazil, and South Africa.
In December 2021, with her tandem cycling partner Eve McCrystal, Katie-George won the 2021 RTÉ Sport Team of the Year.
Katie-George has been advocating on behalf of young blind/vision impaired and disabled people for two decades. She is also an active promoter of diversity and women in sport.
Joseph M. Hassett - USA
A proud Irish American whose great-grandparents emigrated from counties Clare and Cork, Joseph M. Hassett is both an accomplished leading trial lawyer who has successfully handled major corporate and securities cases in trials, appeals and arbitration; and a Yeats Scholar.
He has written extensively on Yeats, Joyce and other Irish writers and balances his achievements in law with a passion for Irish culture and academia. He has long been an important patron of Irish literature in Ireland, with The National Library, Yeats’s Tower, Thoor Ballylee, and the Yeats Society among Irish arts organisations to benefit from his support. He holds a PhD in Anglo-Irish Literature from University College Dublin and is a graduate of Harvard Law School.
His interest in W.B. Yeats stems from the generosity of Irish Americans in his hometown of Buffalo, New York, who funded a scholarship that took him to the Yeats International Summer School in Sligo following his junior year in college in 1963.
Joseph has lectured on Yeats and other Irish writers at such venues as the Yeats International Summer School in Sligo, the James Joyce Summer School in Dublin, the Princess Grace Irish Library in Monaco, and Oxford University.
Fergus Linehan - Britain
Dublin born, Fergus Linehan has been the Director of the Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) since 2015. Prior to that, he was CEO of Sydney Festival and Head of Music at Sydney Opera House where he championed Irish artists and brought them direct to Australian audiences.
As Director of the Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) his transformation of the Festival over the past seven years has been lauded and recognised locally and internationally. He has ensured that Ireland’s arts and culture have had a constant and exceptional international platform, continuing his strong advocacy for Irish culture and heritage, curating a breadth of performances.
Fergus received the 2021 Edinburgh Award, nominated by the citizens of Edinburgh, for exceptional contribution to the life of the city. He was recognised for his innovative contribution to the city’s arts and cultural heritage, particularly his opening up of the Festival to become an integral part of the city’s life, engaging all communities, and ensuring that the best global arts and culture are accessible to all.
In expanding the programming of EIF to include styles and origins of work previously unfamiliar to the Festival, Fergus maintained a place for the best of Irish work, including emerging talent.
As Fergus finishes his tenure at EIF with this year’s Festival, he leaves behind him a transformed cultural environment in which Ireland’s place has been secured. His work on behalf of Irish arts and culture has been invaluable. He has pushed the boundaries of cultural collaboration between Scotland and Ireland and has profoundly strengthened the relationship.
Business and Education
Prof. Wang Zhanpeng & Prof. Chen Li (China)
Prof. Wang Zhanpeng (Director) and Prof. Chen Li (Vice Director) established the Irish Studies Centre at the Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU) - the first comprehensive, multidisciplinary research institution in Irish Studies in China which undertakes a range of interdisciplinary programmes involving literature, culture, history, politics, economics and international relations.
Over the past fourteen years, the Irish Studies Centre has flourished as a leading educational and cultural centre with global significance, thanks to the leadership of Professor Wang Zhanpeng and Professor Chen Li. Both are highly committed and passionate educators, with a deep appreciation and understanding of Irish literature and a great affection for Ireland.
While both Professors Wang Zhanpeng and Chen Li are each impressive in their own ways, it is their work as a team that makes the Irish Studies Centre at BFSU a key hub for Irish Studies in China.
The success of the Irish Studies programme at the prestigious BFSU is a major development which has contributed to raising the awareness of Ireland and Irish culture in China.
Professor Wang Zhanpeng
Having published extensively in the fields of European Politics and Irish Studies, Professor Wang Zhanpeng previously served as Visiting Scholar (on Irish Studies, Sino-Irish Relations, Sino-Europe Relations) at NUI Maynooth in 2014.
On his return to China, Professor Wang took over the heavy responsibilities of running the Irish Centre at BFSU as its formal director. He also persuaded BFSU to provide a course in the Irish language as part of its MA programme – and now to put aside an exclusive academic appointment which guarantees that Irish will be taught every year there by a qualified professor.
Outside BFSU, he plays a crucial role as liaison officer with the directors of many other Irish Centres, particularly in Shanghai, Chengdu and Dalian. To coordinate their efforts, he manages the online Irish Studies Network on the BFSU website.
In terms of relations with Irish universities, Professor Wang helps organize projects between BFSU, Maynooth and UCD. He also participates in various university thinktanks as well as those sponsored by the IIEA and the China-Ireland Institute.
Professor Chen Li
Focusing her academic research mainly on Irish literature, Professor Chen Li has a particular interest in contemporary Irish women’s writing.
During the last decade, she has published more than 20 research papers on modern Irish literature in leading Chinese academic journals. Professor Chen Li was a visiting Fulbright scholar to the Irish Studies Centre, Boston College, USA from 2017-2018.
She has also published two monographs on Irish literature in Chinese. Currently she has just finished a monograph on contemporary Irish and Irish-American novels. Work in progress is directed towards writing a concise history of Irish literature.
Ciarán Staunton and Orlaith Staunton - USA
In the wake of the tragic death of their son, Rory, from sepsis in 2012, Ciarán and Orlaith Staunton (from Mayo and Louth respectively) founded the Rory Staunton Foundation, now known as End Sepsis, to ensure the preventable tragedy that befell them would not affect others.
This foundation has had huge success in passing laws requiring protocols that can identify and treat sepsis before it becomes terminal thereby leading to far fewer deaths from the killer infection, the number one cause of death in hospitals across the United States.
Their work has undoubtedly saved thousands of lives and the introduction of the protocols reduced deaths by 21% in New York State, and a study attributed 16,000 lives saved as a direct result of their implementation.
The Foundation is working state by state to introduce these protocols (known in New York as Rory's Regulations). 43 million Americans are now protected by sepsis regulations due to the tireless, selfless and life-saving work of the Stauntons in memory of their son.
The Stauntons are emblematic of the indelible impact that the Irish have made in New York.
Irish Community Support
Founder and CEO of Gypsy and Traveller Empowerment Hertfordshire (GATE Herts) which has operated for over a decade, Josephine (Josie) O’Driscoll has worked tirelessly to raise awareness and quality of life for Travellers.
She developed GATE Herts as a small volunteer led group concerned about Traveller exclusion, to the professional, well known and respected NGO it is today, challenging hate crime and supporting social inclusion and health and educational opportunities for members of the Gypsy, Traveller and Roma communities.
She has grown the organisation from within the Travelling community, building confidence and developing the innate abilities of Travellers in Hertfordshire and beyond.
Most notable is Josie's work to raise awareness and reporting of hate crime directed towards Gypsy, Traveller and Roma communities. Noting that Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people had little confidence or knowledge of hate crime reporting, despite the significance and impact of such crimes, Josie worked with TellMAMA UK, Police and Local Authorities, the broad spectrum of GRT and other civil society groups.
The Report Racism GRT website developed by Josie and colleagues is generating significant data regarding Hate Crime affecting Irish Travellers. Josie has also worked with New Buckinghamshire University and others to study and report on the effects of hate crime and is a member of Moving for Change Board of Directors
Additionally, and most powerfully to date, Josie has led on the development of International Irish Traveller Day to be launched 1 March 2023. Irish Travellers have never had a culturally specific celebration date.
Josie is leading on the engagement of community members and allies globally with over 7,000 responses so far, across key countries; consulting, ensuring inclusion, co-ordinating with individuals, groups and interested parties in forming a cohesive, inclusive, global celebration of Irish Traveller/Irish Culture.
Peace, Reconciliation & Development
Mary Ellen McGroarty - Afghanistan
Donegal native, Mary Ellen McGroarty is the country Director of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in Afghanistan. She leads 600 WFP staff, who have fed more than 18 million people since the Taliban took over, saving countless lives, and bringing hope to destitute families that feel abandoned by the outside world.
She has been instrumental in supporting Ireland on the UN Security Council and has ensured that the devastating humanitarian collapse in Afghanistan remained front and centre of the Security Council’s response to the Taliban’s takeover.
When other UN staff relocated in the first uncertain days and weeks of the Taliban takeover, Mary Ellen stayed and delivered. She ably led her World Food Programme team to deliver in the most difficult of circumstances.
Mary Ellen provided invaluable leadership to humanitarians across Afghanistan, whose livelihoods and ability to carry out their lifesaving work was threatened by the Taliban’s decrees against women’s employment and freedom of movement.
Over a year on, Mary Ellen has been a constant and consistent champion for those threatened by hunger and malnutrition in Afghanistan. A frequent and powerful voice in the international media, Mary Ellen has called to the world's attention the plight of an abandoned nation and a population on the brink.
In addition to her work with the WFP, and notwithstanding the many other demands on her time, Mary Ellen assisted with the evacuation from Afghanistan of Irish citizens, their families and Afghan nationals with Irish Refugee Protection Programme status.
Before her appointment to Afghanistan, Mary Ellen served as WFP’s Deputy Country Director in South Sudan, where she steered WFP’s emergency and resilience operations and contributed to designing programmes linking peace and food security. Previously, she served as WFP’s Representative and Country Director in Chad, overseeing emergency and resilience programmes in response to multi-crises, including in Lake Chad and the Sahel.
Fr. Dick O’Riordan - South Africa
Originally from Cork, Fr. Dick O’Riordan is a 78 year old Missionary priest who has devoted his life to a life of service in South Africa. Since his arrival in South Africa in 1967 he has demonstrated a deep commitment to freedom and rights for all South Africans.
His life is an example of courage and persistence in the face of adversity. He challenged the apartheid regime when many ignored the obvious horror, resulting in him being imprisoned with his parishioners and sent into exile twice (1978 and 1986).
On his return to South Africa in 1992 at the end of Apartheid, he continued to live a life of service in the black townships surrounding Capetown.
Fr. O’Riordan completed and published his autobiography in 2022, launching it in the various parishes where he served over the years. He is featured in the documentary on Irish Missionaries in South Africa entitled “Poverty, Chastity and (dis)Obedience”. He is an active member of the Irish South Africa Association.
Science, Technology & Innovation
Professor Teresa Lambe (Britain)
An Irish scientist working at Oxford University’s Jenner Institute, Professor Lambe is the co-designer of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which is the most widely used vaccine against COVID-19 in the world. She oversaw studies and trials of the vaccine, and its immune impact.
She was a direct part of the initial analysis of the disease, leading to the successful development of the vaccine, and received extensive coverage in Irish media throughout the pandemic in respect of the important role she played in its delivery.
Professor Lambe has also held an important role in subsequent studies on the mixing and matching of different vaccines. In 2021, she was appointed an Honorary Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to Science and Public Health. She also received the 2021 UCD Alumni Award in Science.