News and Views

‘Voice of her generation’ author Louise O’Neill honoured by UCC

19 Nov 2021
Dr Louise O'Neill (Provision)

Award-winning author and columnist Louise O’Neill today (FRIDAY NOVEMBER 19) received an Honorary Doctorate in Law from University College Cork (UCC) in recognition of her work’s role in bringing problematic issues to the fore in contemporary discourse. 

A native of Clonakilty, Ms O’Neill released her first Young Adult (YA) novel ‘Only Ever Yours’ in 2014, which subsequently received accolades including Sunday Independent Newcomer of the Year at the 2014 Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards; the Children’s Books Ireland Eilís Dillon Award for a First Children’s Book; and The Bookseller‘s inaugural YA Book Prize 2015.

Her second novel ‘Asking For It’ was released to critical acclaim in September 2015. A provocative examination of challenging issues such as rape culture, social media, and victim-blaming, ‘Asking For It’ was proclaimed “riveting and essential” by the New York Times, and led the Guardian to describe Ms O’Neill as “the best YA fiction writer alive today.”

Subsequently adapted for the stage, ‘Asking For It’ spent 52 consecutive weeks in the Irish top 10 bestseller list and won the Specsaver’s Senior Children’s Book of the Year at the 2015 Irish Book Awards, the Literature Prize at Irish Tatler’s Women of the Year Awards, the American Library Association’s Michael L. Printz award, and was voted Book of the Year at the Irish Books Awards 2015.

Ms O'Neill’s first novel for adults, Almost Love, was published in March 2018, followed shortly by The Surface Breaks, her feminist re-imagining of The Little Mermaid which was released in May 2018. Her second novel for adults, After the Silence, was published in September 2020 and won the Crime Novel of the Year at the Irish Book Awards. 

‘Only Ever Yours’, ‘Asking For It’, and ‘After The Silence’ have all been optioned for screen adaptation.

Ms O’Neill received Honorary Degree of Doctor of Law, and reflecting on the conferring, she said:

“My mother and sister both attended UCC so I’ve always felt a little left out when they’re reminiscing about their college days! To be given an honorary doctorate is beyond my wildest dreams. I’m so grateful to the university and to the School of Law for this incredible honour.”

Ms O’Neill was nominated for the honour by Prof. Louise Crowley of the School of Law, and leader of UCC’s Bystander Intervention Programme. She said:

“Louise O'Neill is the voice of her generation. Through her writing and play adaptations, Louise's work has made a significant and challenging contribution to the contemporary narrative surrounding key societal issues. It has awakened an awareness of the importance of recognising and calling out unacceptable behaviour, it has inspired a demand for cultural change across Irish society, providing an impetus for the robust exploration and reimagination of the role of educators to develop training, awareness and capacity to better support and empower voices for change.”

UCC President Prof. John O'Halloran said:

"I am delighted that Louise O'Neill is the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate in our final November conferring ceremonies. Louise's seminal work has held a mirror up to Irish society, and forced us to confront uncomfortable truths about our culture that were all-pervasive, but of which we rarely speak. While her skill is in writing on complex and challenging issues in a manner that engages, and not patronises, young audiences, her work transcends age categorisations and carries valuable lessons for us all."

Almost 4,700 students will be conferred at UCC during the month of November. This weekend's conferrings mark the culmination of four weeks of graduation ceremonies for the Classes of 2020 and 2021, following which UCC will have reached the milestone of over 200,000 alumni.

University College Cork

Coláiste na hOllscoile Corcaigh

College Road, Cork T12 K8AF