Professor Mary McAleese

  • Professor of Children, Law and Religion (Theology & Religious Studies)


Undergraduate Education

The Queens University of Belfast LLB

Graduate Education

Inn of Court of Northern Ireland (1974) Barrister at Law; King's Inns Dublin (1978) Barrister-at Law; Trinity College Dublin (1986) MA; Institute of Linguists (1989) Diploma in Spanish; National University of Ireland (2010) M.A (Canon Law); Pontifical Gregorian University (2012, 2018) JCL, JDL

Scholarships and Fellowships

Burns Scholar , Boston College (2013)

Farwell Distinguished Lecturer, Luther College, Decorah Iowa, (March 2015).

Carmel and Martin Naughton Distinguished Fellow, Notre Dame University, (2015).

Distinguished Professor in Irish Studies, St. Mary's University, London (2016).

Executive Fellow, Keough Institute of Global Affairs, University of Notre Dame University (2016).

Chair, European Union Commission High level Group on modernising third level education 2012- 2015

Previous Positions

Reid Professor of Criminal Law, Criminology and Penology, Trinity College Dublin (1975-79, 1981-1987)

Current affairs broadcaster, Radio Telefis Eireann (1979-81)

Director Institute of Professional Legal Studies Queens University Belfast, 1987-1997)

Pro-Vice Chancellor The Queen's University of Belfast (1995 -1997)

President of Ireland (1997-2014)


Non-executive directorships (formerly held)

Channel 4 Television, BBC Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Electricity, Royal Group of Hospitals Trust.

Patron (current only)

  • Bob Hawke Institute, University of South Australia.
  • Von Hugel Institute St. Edmund’s College, University of Cambridge
  • Margaret Beaufort Institute, University of Cambridge
  • Mayo-Roscomon Hospice
  • John and Pat Hume Foundation


Distinctions, Honours Awards

  • Seamus Heaney Award in Arts and Letters (Glucksman Ireland House) (2021)
  • Alfred Auer Ethics Award (University of Tubingen) (2019)
  • Dignité de Grand Officier de l'Ordre National du Mérite (France) (2019)
  • Tolerantia Award (2016)
  • Gilbert Medal (Universitas 21) (2016)
  • Praeses Elit (TCD) (2015)
  • Eire Society Award (Boston) (2016)
  • "Ally of the year" GALA award (2016)
  • Premio Speciale Donna (Pesaro, Italy) (2015)
  • Ulysses Medal (UCD) (2014)
  • American Ireland Humanitarian Award (2013)
  • Catholic Theological Union,  Blessed are the Peacemakers Award (2013)
  • Tipperary Peace Prize (2012)
  • O'Connell Medal (2012)
  • GALA Political Figure Award (2011)
  • Freedom of the Burgh of Kilkenny (2009)

Research interests

Current research

Synodality in the Catholic Church (Chapter in book due for publication winter 2021)

Human rights and canon law in the Catholic Church. Delegitimising the baptismal obligation of obedience to the magisterium. (Book due for publication winter 2022)


  • Reconciled Being (1997)
  • Building Bridges(2011)
  • Quo Vadis, Collegiality in the 1983 Code of Canon law (2013)
  • Childrens’ rights and obligations in Canon Law: The Christening contract (2019)
  • Here’s the Story: a Memoir (2020)

Articles (recent only)

  • “Canon law and human rights- We need a new debate starting with children”, Theologische Quartalschrift 201 (2021), 103-11.
  • “Foreword”, in D. Mullan-C.Prendergast, We cannot be silent, April 2021, 2-3.
  • “Memories of Cootehall”, in T. Inglis, The John McGahern Barracks, (2021) 5-7.
  • “The right to life and the right to eternal life- a Church of contradictions”, The Tablet, 11 Feb. 2021


List by: Type | Date

Jump to: 2019
Number of items: 1.


McAleese, M. (2019) Childrens' Rights and Obligations in Canon Law: The Christening Contract. Series: Studies in religion, secular beliefs and human rights (14). Brill Nijhoff: Leiden ; Boston. ISBN 9789004411166 (doi:10.1163/9789004411173)

This list was generated on Thu Sep 23 21:30:39 2021 BST.
Jump to: Books
Number of items: 1.


McAleese, M. (2019) Childrens' Rights and Obligations in Canon Law: The Christening Contract. Series: Studies in religion, secular beliefs and human rights (14). Brill Nijhoff: Leiden ; Boston. ISBN 9789004411166 (doi:10.1163/9789004411173)

This list was generated on Thu Sep 23 21:30:39 2021 BST.

Additional information

Honorary Doctorates

  • University of Aberdeen
  • Boston College
  • Bristol University
  • University of Delaware
  • Dublin City University
  • Fordham University
  • Harbin University
  • U. Mass. Lowell
  • Maynooth University
  • Mount Holyoke
  • National University of Ireland
  • University of Notre Dame
  • Open University
  • Queen's University of Belfast
  • University of Queensland
  • RCSI
  • Trinity College Dublin
  • University of St Andrews
  • St. Mary's University
  • University of San Francisco
  • University of Shenzhen University South Australia
  • University of Strathclyde
  • University of Ulster
  • Women's University Korea
  • University of Otago



Invited Lectures (recent only)
All texts available on

1. John and Pat Hume Foundation Inaugural Conference on Leadership for Peaceful Change, Opening Address, Robert Schuman Institute, Florence, 1 July 2021

2. “Baptismal obligations? Revisiting the christening contract- a necessary prelude to any synodal journey”, Newman Lecture, St. Benet’s College Oxford University, 10 June 2021.

3. “Rerum Novarum and human rights”, Rerum Novarum 120th Anniversary Conference, St. Mary’s University Twickenham, 8 May 2021 (to be published autumn 2021) (awaiting Conference paper publication).

4. “Children, religion and the earth they will inherit”, University of Edinburgh 22 April 2021 to celebrate 175 years of New College – home of the School of Divinity of the University of Edinburgh.

5. “Introducing D'Arcy Magee to a changed and changing Ireland”, The Inaugural D'Arcy Magee Beacon Lecture, St Michael's College University of Toronto 29 October 2020.

6. “The flaws in the Christening Contract. How the human rights of children now require the Church to separate the theological (divine) from the juridic (man-made) consequences of Baptism”, Faculty of Catholic Theology, Goethe University Frankfurt 5 June 2020. (awaiting conference paper publication)


  • Irish Martyrs (1985)
  • Columbanus – The First European (2015)
  • Cumann na mBan (2016)
  • Mna na Glinnti (2016)
  • All Walks of Life – TV series 2020/2021