Armagh Observatory and Planetarium, has announced the launch of the Astronomical Observatories of Ireland Partnership, in collaboration with Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies – Dunsink Observatory and Birr Castle Demesne.
The initiative was officially unveiled during a formal reception, which was held at The House of Lords in Dublin’s Bank of Ireland building, College Green, on May 26 and attended by An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD.
An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: “The emerging partnership between the Astronomical Observatories of Ireland represents the best that both parts of this island have to offer in terms of contribution to international scientific research that literally helps us navigate the globe and understand the universe.
“The partnership also represents the best of co-operation between all the communities of this island, bringing innovation and research, science education, arts and cultural programming to new audiences.
“This can provide the creative inspiration to transcend current challenges on our shared island, in the way that humanity has always looked to the cosmos for inspiration. This partnership represents the kind of co-operation, shared programming and placemaking on which I hope we can continue to work together, North and South, for the betterment of all our people for the 21st Century.”
A collaboration between Armagh Observatory and Planetarium (AOP), Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies – Dunsink Observatory and Birr Castle Demesne, the Astronomical Observatories of Ireland’s emerging North-South partnership endeavours to highlight the global historical co-operation links between Ireland’s observatories.
The initiative seeks to create a programme of joint work across the three sites in Armagh, Dublin and Birr and to foster a shared approach to science, research, heritage, public education and culture across the island of Ireland.
In addition to highlighting the strong, ongoing contribution that Ireland and Northern Ireland make to international astrophysical research, the partnership provides an opportunity for new forms of North-South co-operation between the observatories and the areas in which they’re based.
Commenting on the official launch of the Astronomical Observatories of Ireland partnership, Professor Peter Gallagher, Director of DIAS Dunsink Observatory and Chairperson of Birr Castle Demesne, said: “We are very pleased to have reached this significant milestone of officially launching the Astronomical Observatories of Ireland – what promises to be both an exciting and important initiative for all three observatories.
“Although there are significant astronomical legacies across all three observatories, this North-South partnership will strengthen our collaboration and facilitate closer cooperation across our work and future projects.
“We are delighted to have An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar join us to officially launch the partnership. His support for the initiative is recognised and goes a long way in helping us demonstrate the significance and potential of the partnership.”
The launch event also saw AOP virtually present the Robinson Medal for Science to the Astronomer Royal, Lord Martin Rees.
A silver replica of an original struck in 1789 by Irish Medallist, Mossop of Dublin, the medal was created during Armagh Observatory’s bicentenary celebrations to honour the memory of its founder, Archbishop Richard Robinson. It is occasionally awarded to a distinguished scientist.
Professor Michael Burton, Director at AOP, added: “We are delighted to have launched the Astronomical Observatories of Ireland Partnership, together with our partners, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies – Dunsink Observatory and Birr Castle Demesne. It was a pleasure to welcome An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar to the occasion.
“Through a newly refreshed North-South collaboration, this vital initiative will add value in the areas of knowledge, engagement, research and heritage promotion, and it will facilitate a sense of a shared history and future based on over two centuries of cooperation between the three institutions at Armagh, Dunsink and Birr.”