Tributes to Dr. Miriam Hederman O’Brien
Tributes were paid to Dr Miriam Hederman O’Brien, who died on Monday.
r Hederman O’Brien (89) has had a distinguished career in public affairs in Ireland and Europe, including being the first female chancellor of a university in Ireland.
More than a decade earlier, when she was appointed to the board of Allied Irish Banks (AIB) in 1985, she was the first woman to sit on the board of an Irish plc.
Dr Hederman O’Brien served as Chancellor of the University of Limerick (UL) from 1998 to 2002, and the university paid tribute today.
Current UL Chancellor Mary Harney said Dr Hederman O’Brien was an inspirational role model and that Irish society was enriched by his leadership and scholarship.
UL President Professor Kerstin Mey said the university had benefited immensely from the “leadership of Dr. Hederman O’Brien, his enthusiastic commitment, vast experience and wise counsel throughout his mandate”.
Professor Mey said she has made a significant contribution to Irish and European society through her participation in and leadership of a wide range of councils, commissions and research bodies in Ireland and overseas.
Dr. Hederman O’Brien earned an undergraduate degree in arts at UCD and was called to the bar a few years later. During her student years, she was a founding member of the European Youth Movement, and this interest in Europe continued throughout her life.
Dr. Hederman O’Brien’s postgraduate studies included a Killeen Fellowship in TCD where she explored exchange training, education and vocational training between Ireland and Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia. She was awarded the Silver Medal of the European Order of Merit in 1984 and the Order of Merit from the President of Poland in 1992.
She spent her early working years as a journalist, writing about education and women’s rights for both broadcast and print media, at home and abroad.
A varied and distinguished career in public life followed, covering areas such as freedom of information legislation, the judiciary, health services, social partnership, civil service, taxation and the media.
The expertise and leadership of Dr Hederman O’Brien has been frequently called upon to tackle testing issues for Irish society and economy. Among other things, she chaired the Commission on Taxation in the 1980s, the Expert Panel Inquiry into the Blood Service Council, the Commission on the Funding of Irish Health Services in 1989, the Complaints Commission on Broadcasting 1977-1980 and the Forum on Youth Homelessness in Ireland. the Eastern Health Board region report of 2000.
A talented pianist, her support and involvement in cultural life includes a period as director of the Dublin Grand Opera Society.
Originally from Naas, County Kildare, Dr Hederman O’Brien settled in Malahide, County Dublin with her late husband, Bill. She is survived by her five children, Donat, Aoife, Eilis, Dervilla and Murrough, and her ten grandchildren.
Dr Hederman O’Brien’s funeral mass will be held at St Sylvester’s Church in Malahide on Saturday morning at 10am, followed by a funeral service at Fingal Cemetery.