Press 2015

Inaugural RDS Primary Science Fair Limerick
Minister Jan O’Sullivan opens exhibition: almost 2,000 more primary school children can participate in 2016 STEM focused initiative

Today (15.01.16) the first RDS Primary Science Fair Limerick opened its doors to almost 2,000 primary school children to exhibit their science related projects. In 2016 over 4,500 fourth, fifth and sixth class students from across the country will exhibit in total at the RDS Primary Science Fairs which for the first time spanned two weekends and two cities – Dublin and Limerick.


Complementing the RDS Primary Science Fair Dublin that happens alongside the BT Young Scientists & Technology Exhibition each January, the RDS Primary Science Fair Limerick welcomed primary school classes from all over Munster and beyond to Mary Immaculate College, Limerick for an exhibition of their projects that spanned the curious: How do you stop tears forming when cutting onions? to the practical: How do different soil types effect plant growth? to the intriguing: Can I charge my mobile device with a fruit or vegetable?


The Fair is part of the RDS Science and Technology programme which aims to encourage the development of science and mathematical skills in primary school aged children by fostering education innovation, imbuing teachers with greater confidence in teaching science and harnessing children’s innate curiosity to equip them with the fundamentals of scientific inquiry. The RDS Primary Science Fair Limerick is held in association with the Irish American Partnership and supported by Science Foundation Ireland, Mary Immaculate College, Limerick and the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition.


Opening the RDS Primary Science Fair Limerick, Minister for Education & Skills, and local Limerick TD, Jan O’Sullivan said: I’m really thrilled to be opening the RDS Primary Science Fair here in Limerick. It is a brilliant initiative that fosters young students’ natural curiosity and provides them with a great stage to show off their achievements. The RDS Primary Science Fair has gone from strength-to-strength and today’s announcement is a very visible sign of that success.  The annual event in Dublin was over-subscribed for many years, with dozens of schools missing out on the chance to exhibit their projects.  I am delighted that, with the support of the Irish American Partnership and others, the RDS has added a new venue to the Primary Science Fair and I am particularly pleased that the first expansion has been to Limerick.’


‘The enhancement of science and maths subjects at primary level is hugely important and we have seen definite evidence that the Government’s numeracy strategy is really making a difference among primary school students. The RDS Primary Science Fair complements that success. The fact that it is based in Limerick is a great boost for our local young scientists both here and in the surrounding areas.”


CEO of the RDS, Michael Duffy commented: “It’s fantastic this year to have over 4,500 primary school children enthused with science, which the expansion to Limerick has made possible. The RDS has a tradition of innovation in science which the RDS Primary Science Fair continues through encouraging children, teachers and entire schools to treat science in a fun and creative way that at the same time equips the children with the fundamental science skills of inquiryUltimately the focus of the Fair is about how children think.”

Asked about the RDS involvement in this area, he said: “The RDS core mission is to see Ireland thrive culturally and economically. The RDS Primary Science Fair is a key component in helping to realise this. We see it as a long-term investment in the future of Ireland.”


Speaking on behalf of the Irish American Partnership, Executive Director Mary Sugrue said: “The Partnership is delighted to be involved in the expansion of the RDS Primary Science Fair to Limerick. The Irish American Partnership has been involved in supporting education at primary school level for a number of years and supporting the RDS Primary Science Fair is the perfect vehicle to reach out to even more schools. I have no doubt that the Limerick expansion will make a huge impact on dozens of schools who would not have otherwise been able to attend the RDS Primary Science Fair.

Commenting on the value of children’s participation in science and initiatives like the RDS Science Fair, Niamh Lyons, interim director at Science Foundation Ireland said, ‘Science teaches children how the world works. It encourages them to form their own opinions; to foster an ability to source and assess information beyond the internet; and to support an appreciation that much effort along with some failure is generally needed to answer the big questions in life. Ultimately, Science Foundation Ireland hopes that through projects like the RDS Primary Science Fair more children begin to realise how exciting science is, its impact on their world and most importantly that they too can play a part, with the potential one day of maybe solving one of life’s big problems."

President of Mary Immaculate College, Limerick, Prof. Michael A Hayes said: “Mary Immaculate College has a rich history of engagement with all sectors within the wider community and is committed to making a positive difference locally, regionally and nationally. In-line with the goals of the RDS, the College has a strong track record in encouraging children’s long term interest, understanding, knowledge and skills in STEM subjects and developing primary school teachers’ confidence, knowledge and skills in the teaching of STEM.  Therefore we are delighted to be partnering the RDS in developing the Primary Science Fair Limerick which will further compliment and strengthen our impact in this area.


The RDS Primary Science Fair encourages primary school teachers to focus on developing students’ core scientific skills by investigating a question or problem by ‘working scientifically’ and ‘designing and making’ as per the primary science curriculum. Teachers’ feedback indicates that it’s not just science skills that benefit but general literacy, oral language and numeracy skills can improve through PSF participation. International studies have also demonstrated a direct link between primary school science engagement and later academic science achievement.






RDS Arts Increase Prize Fund to €75,000


Significant increases to RDS awards in craft, visual art and classical music


Rewarding and encouraging emerging Irish talent a feature across all areas, with a new configuration for the RDS National Craft Awards that benefits from sponsorship by the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland in this year of Irish Design 2015.


With a 40% increase in prize funds across the disciplines of craft-making, visual art and classical music, the RDS Arts programme is looking to make a substantial difference for emerging Irish talent this year. The RDS Music Bursary is now worth €15,000 and awarded to one lucky senior competition winner at this year’s ESB Feis Ceoil. The RDS Student Arts Awards has significantly increased its prize fund to €20,000, with the prestigious Taylor Art Award now worth €10,000. While sponsorship from Irish Design 2015 and the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland mean the RDS National Craft Awards has a total prize fund of €40,000 across thirteen craft categories. Both the RDS Student Art Awards and the RDS National Craft Awards are now open for entries, with the RDS National Craft Awards now segmented into separate strands for emerging and established makers. Online application forms for both are accessible at, deadline 10 June.


Speaking on foot of the call for entries for the RDS National Craft Awards and the RDS Student Art awards, RDS Committee of Arts Chairman, Joseph Lynch said: “These Student Art and Craft Awards showcase and reward work from the best craft-makers and graduating visual artists in Ireland, encouraging and assisting emerging talent in art and craft towards a professional career, while at the same time recognising the best established craftspeople in the country. This year we have been able to increase the prize funds substantially with a top prize of €10,000 for the best graduating student artist, and three prizes of €5,000 for craft-makers. This year’s awards take on even more importance with it being the Year of Irish Design and the additional sponsorship from Irish Design 2015 and the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland have helped make 2015 a very substantial prize offering”.


May 7 will see the first of the RDS Rising Stars concerts for 2015, in which Irish soprano Anna Devin will star. Anna is a previous recipient of the RDS Music Bursary and from that backing has gone on to have a real impact in the operatic scene across Europe. “The increase of the Music Bursary prize to €15,000 by the RDS shows our genuine commitment to this area’ said Joseph Lynch. ‘Making the transition to a professional musician is a costly one and the RDS Music Bursary is there to support emerging Irish talent in doing this”.


The RDS Student Art Awards

The RDS Student Art Awards are open to students graduating from degree or postgraduate level courses in the year of entry enrolled in Irish art colleges. The Taylor Art and R.C. Lewis Crosby Awards are also open to graduating Irish art students studying overseas.


Entries are encourages in all visual art disciplines including multimedia, photography, painting, drawing, print-making and installation work. Judged by a panel of experts, prizes will be awarded to the most promising emerging visual art students in 2015. See for more information and to view rules of entry. Winning and selected entries will be shown at RDS Student Art Awards Exhibition at the Discover Ireland Dublin Horse Show, RDS (August, 2015)


RDS Student Art Awards

  • RDS Taylor Art Award €10,000
  • R.C. Lewis-Crosby Award €5,000
  • RDS Monster Truck 1 Year Studio Award (value €5,000)

(Non-cash studio award worth €3,000 plus €2,000 stipend awarded by RDS)


The RDS National Craft Awards

Showcasing and rewarding excellence in Irish craft since 1968, the RDS National Craft Awards is now a two strand competition with an independent panel of craft experts assessing the work of emerging and established makers separately. To be eligible to enter the emerging maker strand, entrants must be able to show that they are either: Students studying craft in a third level institution, or have within the last five years set up a craft business, or are new to a craft discipline within the last five years, either studying via an apprenticeship or are a life-long learner on an informal course.


Major Awards

  • RDS Award of Excellence €5,000 (top prize awarded in each strand)
  • Irish Design 2015 Award €5,000 (open to emerging & established category winners)
  • RDS IACI Muriel Gahan Award €2,000 (emerging maker)
  • RDS Graduate Award €2,000 (emerging maker)
  • National Crafts & Design Fair Award (value €2,000 emerging maker)
  • RDS William Smith O’Brien Perpetual Challenge Cup (open to emerging & established makers)


The RDS Music Bursary

An annual prize, the RDS Music Bursary recipient is decided by an expert panel of judges based on the outcome of a panel interview. Winners of ten specified ESB Feis Ceoil Senior Competitions are eligible to enter for the bursary. Always a difficult task, the judges must choose who they feel will most benefit from the Bursary prize money, selecting a musician, singer or conductor who has real potential to turn from an emerging talent to a professional musician. This year’s interviews and announcement will take place on April 16 in the RDS. The RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra will offer a 2015/2016 season engagement to the winner, and Irish Heritage in London will offer a winning instrumentalist or singer a solo recital in London, with full travel costs, during the 2015/16 season. 



IIEA & RDS Leadership Forum seeking to make Ireland international leader in climate smart agriculture

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, today (Wednesday 04.03.15) launched the RDS and the Institute for International and European Affairs (IIEA) Leadership Forum on Climate Smart Agriculture.

The Forum will examine how Ireland can emerge as a global leader in climate smart agriculture, by identifying appropriate policies and practices in collaboration with stakeholders and experts from across the sector. IIEA/RDS will host a series of high-level consultations, seminars and surveys over the next six months, before drawing up a report to be presented to Government in March 2016.

The agriculture sector accounts for nearly one third of overall Irish greenhouse gas emissions, and demanding national emissions targets pose concerns for the sector’s expansions plans set out in Food Harvest 2020

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney TD said “By sustainably exploiting the potential of Irish food production we must seek to increase the competitiveness of the sector while also reducing its environmental footprint. In this regard we believe that sustainable intensification though climate smart agriculture is an intelligent approach to how farmers should produce as we seek to meet the growing global demand for food.”

Speaking at the launch IIEA Director General Tom Arnold said that: “climate change, food security and malnutrition are among the greatest challenges faced by humanity, and implementing climate smart agriculture on farms can help address all three. Climate smart agriculture offers a ‘triple-win’ of: increasing farm productivity and incomes; building resilience to the impacts of climate change; while reducing agricultural greenhouse gas emissions. The IIEA is well placed to drive this initiative with our partner the RDS, given our internationally recognised expertise on climate change policy”.

Matthew Dempsey, President of the RDS, went on to add that: having been involved in both Irish agriculture and Irish science for over 280 years the RDS has always taken a long term view. The Leadership Forum is about future-proofing the long-term success and sustainability of Irish agriculture using the best scientific evidence available. Over the next year we will hear from best practice internationally, consult with a wide range stakeholders, identify the best climate smart practices for Ireland and communicate the collation of these findings to a wider audience. Our aim is for Irish farming to become a climate smart agriculture leader in policy and practice, while ensuring its sustainable long-term future.

Globally, the increasing food needs of a growing world population must be met at a time when climate change is likely to increase stress on agricultural productivity. Agriculture and land use are also major contributors of heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change. The work of the Leadership Forum will take place within the context of a rapidly evolving global response to this trilemma:

  • Ireland is the latest signatory to a global alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture that was officially launched in September 2014 with 18 other governments and multiple NGOs and multinationals signing up, such as the World Bank, Rainforest Alliance, the World Food Programme and Kellogg’s.
  • In October 2014 EU leaders agreed in principle to a new approach towards treating emissions from agriculture and forestry, with a final decision to be taken in 2016.   
  • In December 2015 world leaders will gather in Paris to agree a global deal on climate change applicable to all countries, and under which all developed economies will be asked to take on further emissions reduction targets.




Winners of RDS Arena Redevelopment Competition Announced

A consortium of architect firms, Dublin-based Newenham Mulligan Architects and London-based Grimshaw Architects, has won the international design competition for the multimillion-euro redevelopment of the RDS Arena. The RDS, with their partners Leinster Rugby, will work to complete the design of a world class RDS Arena that will host professional rugby matches, equestrian sports, music concerts and other appropriate sporting opportunities as they arise.

Managed by the Royal Institute of Architects in Ireland (RIAI), the competition saw five designs anonymously shortlisted, with the winner chosen by a five person expert jury.

Speaking about the winning design, Michael Duffy, Chief Executive of the RDS said “The jury was unanimous in their selection of the Newenham Mulligan / Grimshaw entry. Their winning concept represents an exciting design response to a complex brief. Entries had to accommodate professional rugby, world class equestrianism and music concerts, in an already very busy events venue. These three elements were exceptionally well incorporated by the winning consortium who stood out for their understanding of the multi-faceted nature of the development and their vision for the RDS Arena.”
RDS Arena North Side View

Focusing on funding for the redevelopment Michael Duffy said: “Having secured our design team, the RDS focus is now on securing the necessary funding for this development. We have budgeted for an overall capital investment of at least €20m for the redevelopment. A number of potential funding streams are currently being explored, including naming rights.”

Leinster Rugby will continue to play their home games as normal during the redevelopment of the RDS Arena which is expected to begin in 2016. Welcoming the announcement, Mick Dawson, Chief Executive, Leinster Rugby said: “This is a very exciting time for Leinster Rugby. We continue to make strides on the pitch with a home Champions Cup Quarter-Final against Bath to prepare for and we are naturally delighted to be making strides off the pitch and moving to the next stage of this project. Leinster Rugby has a loyal supporter base and the redeveloped capacity of 25,000 in a purpose built venue will provide greater opportunities for our supporters and commercial operations. Gate revenue is a significant feature of our current business model, and we are sure that this redevelopment will help with this, as well as allowing us to explore additional commercial revenue streams.

“At the moment we have a section of terrace for supporters and though the final plans are not yet complete, we hope to have a terraced section in the new stadium to accommodate people who prefer this. Though the majority of supporters will be seated.”

Commenting on the significance for the 2023 Rugby World Cup bid Mick Dawson said: “A newly developed RDS Arena certainly has the potential to significantly add to the world cup bid, and we hope to speak to the IRFU in due course.”
RDS Arena Rear Stand View

In 2014 the Newham Mulligan / Grimshaw consortium won the design competition for the redevelopment of the Curragh racecourse.

Newenham Mulligan & Associates is one of Ireland’s oldest architectural practices having been founded in Limerick in 1902. Today the practice has offices in Limerick, Dublin and London. Newenham Mulligan & Associates is a progressive practice of architects, master planners, project managers, graphic and interior designers. While much of their work is in Ireland they have also successfully designed projects in the UK, Germany, Austria and Iran. Further information on the practice and a full list of projects can be found at

Grimshaw Architects was founded by Sir Nicholas Grimshaw in 1980. The practice became a partnership in 2007 and operates worldwide with offices in New York, London, Melbourne, Sydney and Doha, employing 325 staff. Grimshaw’s international portfolio covers all major sectors. The practice has been honoured with over 150 international design awards including the prestigious Lubetkin Prize. The practice has designed many iconic buildings worldwide including the new grandstand at Lords Cricket Ground in London, the Ijburg Bridges in Amsterdam, the Eden Project in Cornwall and the Miami State Museum in Florida. A full list of projects and further information can be sourced at

The RDS is one of the best known venues in Ireland. A not-for-profit organisation and one of the world’s oldest philanthropic organisations, it is a society of Members that works to fulfil its mission of advancing Ireland both economically and culturally.

Leinster Rugby is one of four professional rugby teams in Ireland competing in the Guinness PRO12 and the European Champions Cup. They are the reigning PRO12 champions having won the PRO12 (or its equivalent) four times and are three time European champions. They are currently in the top four of the PRO12 and the Quarter-Final of the Champions Cup. 


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