Edward M. Walsh

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Walsh in 1989

Edward "Ed" M. Walsh (born 1939), is the Founding President of the University of Limerick, the first new university established by the Republic of Ireland. He headed the institution from its inception as the National Institute for Higher Education Limerick, in 1970, when he was appointed as Chairman of the Planning Board, and Director, through its transformation to a university in 1989, when he was appointed President, until his retirement in 1998, when he was awarded the Founding President title for life.

A native of Cork city, Walsh is a chartered engineer and registered silversmith.[1]

Early life[edit]

Born 1939 in Cork in the province of Munster, Ireland, to a butcher and cattle-dealer,[2] he was educated at Christian Brothers College, Cork.[2]

Academic career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Walsh graduated from UCC, part of the National University of Ireland, with a B.Eng., in 1961. He worked as an engineer with Pye in the UK in 1960.[3]

He pursued advanced studies in nuclear and electrical engineering at Iowa State University (ISU), gaining a master's in 1963, and his doctorate in 1964. He was an Associate of the US Atomic Energy Commission Laboratory in Ames, Iowa 1963-1965.[4]

Walsh was assistant professor at Iowa State University 1964-1965, then founding director of the Energy Research Group Programme, and associate professor at Virginia Polytechnic and State University 1968-1969. He also consulted for US energy companies, including the American Electric Power Company (VA) and Furnace Fuels (CA).[3][4]

NIHE Director and UL President[edit]

Walsh was asked to lead the planning body for a new kind of educational institution in 1970, and drove the preparation for and launch of the National Institute of Higher Education (NIHE) Limerick, and its later development into the University of Limerick (in 1989, on the same day as NIHE Dublin became Dublin City University). He is credited with securing funding from the World Bank and the European Investment Bank, and with mounting an international fundraising campaign that secured the support of major philanthropists such as Chuck Feeney and Lewis Glucksman and permitted the University of Limerick to expand significantly at a time when government capital grants were being handed out scarcely. The university introduced to Ireland some academic and administrative systems used in leading US universities, such as continuous assessment, the weighted Grade Point Average and cooperative education. At the outset it introduced Ireland's first degree in European Studies and fostered international placement of students through European Union schemes such as the ERASMUS programme.

Local and national bodies[edit]

Walsh has served as founding chairperson of several Irish national bodies: the Council for Science Technology and Innovation, the National Technological Park, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, and the National Self–Portrait Collection of Ireland. He was also founding chairperson of the Craggaunowen Project, and of multinational initiatives such as the Japan-Europe Partnership, Irish-American Partnership and the Irish Peace Institute.[3][4]

He has also served as chairperson of the Conference of Heads of Irish Universities, Birr Historic Science Foundation, Shannon Development, and of the advisory board of Barrington's Hospital, and as vice-president of the International Association of University Presidents. He has served on the boards or advisory boards of a range of organisations, including the University of Limerick Foundation, the University of Dublin, Dublin City University's Ryan Academy for Entrepreneurship, the Bons Secours group of hospitals, Science Foundation Ireland, Opera Theatre Company, and the Hunt Museum.[4]

He is the principal of Oakhampton Consultants.[4]

Memberships and recognition[edit]

Walsh was elected as a member of the Royal Irish Academy in the Science division, and is also a member of the Irish Academy of Engineering, established by the Institution of Engineers of Ireland, and of the Institution of Electrical Engineers. He was also a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) and the New York Academy of Sciences.[3] He is an honorary member of the Royal Hibernian Academy and a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts. Walsh received honorary doctorates from five Irish universities,[4] though he returned his National University of Ireland award in protest at the making of an honorary degree award to former Taoiseach Brian Cowen.[a]

Walsh was also made a Freeman of the City of Limerick,[4] and in 2012 was appointed as Grand Marshal for Limerick's St Patrick’s Day Parade.[5]

Academic publications[edit]


Walsh published an academic textbook in 1967:

  • New York, USA: Ronald Press, Energy Conversion: electromechanical, direct, nuclear (textbook, with an instructor's manual also available)[6]


He has authored and co-authored a wide range of articles, some well-cited.

Personal life[edit]

Walsh is married to Stephanie Walsh (neé Barrett), and they have three sons and one daughter.[3] His hobbies include yachting and gardening, and he plays piano, violin and the clarinet.[4]


Walsh's memoir, Upstart: friends, foes and founding a university,[7] describes the controversial events associated with the establishment of the Republic of Ireland's first new university. Published by Collins Press in October 2011, it was written in collaboration with journalist Kieran Fagan.


  • Cork: Collins Press, 2011, Walsh, Ed with Fagan, Kieran, "Upstart: Friends, Foes and Founding a University", ISBN 9781848899452


  1. ^ "Edward M Walsh". University of Limerick. Retrieved 17 December 2011.
  2. ^ a b "The view from Ed Walsh". The Irish Times. 1997-09-02. Retrieved 2018-11-19.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Who's Who in Ireland", ed. Maureen Cairnduff; Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin; Vesey Publications; pgs. 227-228
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h "Ed Walsh biography". Edward M Walsh official site. Retrieved 20 November 2018.
  5. ^ Limerick City Council, 28 Feb 2012: Dr. Ed Walsh to Lead Limerick St. Patrick's Day Parade 2012, [1]
  6. ^ Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1967, "Catalog of Copyright Entries", Third Series, July-December, Current Registrations, p. 2307
  7. ^ Upstart: friends, foes and founding a university Archived 2012-10-17 at the Wayback Machine.


  1. ^ The NUI accepted the return of Walsh's parchment, offered to accept the robes by post, but noted that while he could be omitted from lists of awardees there is no mechanisms to "unaward" a degree

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
(President of NIHE Limerick)
President of the University of Limerick
Succeeded by
Roger GH Downer