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Alumni Awards 2023

Olivia O’Leary Honoured as Arts & Humanities Alumna of the Year 2023

Olivia O'Leary Alumni Award Winner 2023

The annual (opens in a new window)UCD Alumni Awards celebrate excellence, outstanding achievement and contribution to society of UCD’s alumni community which numbers more than 300,000 globally. Previous Awardees include; former Irish Ambassador to the US, Anne Anderson, journalist, Fintan O’Toole, costume designer, Consolata Boyle and Oscar winning director and screenwriter, Neil Jordan. This year, Olivia O’Leary (BA English, French and Spanish) joins these ranks as recipient of the Alumni Award in Arts & Humanities.

Olivia O’Leary has had an illustrious career at the forefront of Irish political journalism. Hailing from Co. Carlow, Olivia’s career began as an apprentice journalist for ‘Nationalist and Leinster Times’ following her studies at UCD. She then took up position as RTÉ’s Belfast Correspondent from 1975-76 which forged her career as a political journalist seeing first hand the political and civil unrest. Olivia hosted ‘Today Tonight’, RTÉ’s precursor to ‘Prime Time’ for which she was awarded three Jacob’s Awards for her  in-depth and robust investigative journalism. Later moving to the BBC, Olivia became the first female presenter of the current affairs programme, ‘Newsnight’.

On her time at UCD, Olivia reflects, “UCD taught me how much I didn’t know which is a very good thing for a journalist - it taught me how to ask questions.” In 2011 Olivia was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Literature from UCD for her contribution to journalism and Irish society. After an impactful career in the political spheres, Olivia has returned to her ‘first love’ of literature, recently hosting ‘The Poetry Programme’ on RTÉ Radio 1 dedicated to Irish poets and writers.

The UCD College of Arts & Humanities is delighted to present this award to Olivia O’Leary for her “brilliance as a writer, researcher and journalist epitomised the unique skills of an arts and humanities graduate”, commented Professor Regina Uí Chollatáin, College Principal. 

November 2023

College of Arts and Humanities

University College Dublin Belfield Dublin 4 Ireland
T: +353 1 716 7777