On Jan. 16, Howard Keeley, Ph.D., director of the Center for Irish Research and Teaching (CIRT) at Georgia Southern University, received the 2023 Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad from the Government of Ireland. It is the highest honor the country of Ireland can give to a person who is a non-resident.
Thirteen awards were announced worldwide, only two of which went to individuals based in the U.S. Keeley received the award in the business and economic development category. Achievements cited included his development of Georgia Southern’s presence in Ireland and his facilitation of trade and investment opportunities between Georgia and Ireland.
Keeley, who is originally from Ireland, has lived in the U.S. for more than 30 years and will celebrate 20 years at Georgia Southern in 2024. To receive this honor was humbling, he said.
“In some ways, I think this award has a bit of a reputation for being a lifetime-achievement award,” said Keeley. “People who receive it work very hard for many, many years on projects that are truly impactful for Ireland and Ireland’s reputation. I know some of the people who’ve been recognized in the past, and it’s a huge honor to be included in that company. I’m very humbled by it.”
Keeley has been dedicated to growing Irish research and teaching at Georgia Southern since he joined the faculty in 2004.