Saoi (Irish pronunciation: [sˠiː] , plural Saoithe; literally "wise one"; historically the title of the head of a bardic school) is the highest honour bestowed by Aosdána, a state-supported association of Irish creative artists. The title is awarded for life and held by at most seven people at a time. The limit was increased from five in 2007–08. At the conferring ceremony, a torc (a twist/spiral of gold, worn around the neck) is presented to the Saoi, typically by the President of Ireland.
A committee of ten members of Aosdána referred to as the Toscaireachtmonitor and manage the nominating process to confirm adherence to the established rules. Fifteen members of the Aosdána must nominate a candidate of merit and distinction. An election by secret ballot then occurs with all members. Approval is determined by at least 50% + 1 of the membership voting approval.
Only one nomination per vacancy may be processed through an election at a time. If multiple candidate submissions are received, they go through the election process one at a time until a successful approval is declared. Subsequent nominees are held until there is a future vacancy.
|Samuel Beckett||Literature||October 1984||1985||1989|
|Seán Ó Faoláin||Literature||1986||1986||1991|
|Patrick Collins||Visual arts||1987||1987||1994|
|Louis le Brocquy||Visual arts||1992||1993||2012|
|Tony O'Malley||Visual arts||1993||1993||2003|
|Benedict Kiely||Literature||March 1996||1996||2007|
|Francis Stuart||Literature||October 1996||1996||2000|
|Anthony Cronin||Literature||March 2003||27 June 2003||2016|
|Patrick Scott||Visual arts||28 March 2007||11 July 2007||2014|
|Camille Souter||Visual arts||9 May 2008||24 November 2008||living|
|Seóirse Bodley||Music||September 2008||24 November 2008||living|
|William Trevor||Literature||29 September 2014||2015||2016|
|Edna O'Brien||Literature||2015||15 September 2015||living|
|Imogen Stuart||Visual arts||2015||15 September 2015||living|
|George Morrison||Visual arts||2016||9 March 2017||living|
The president of Ireland is the head of state of Ireland and the supreme commander of the Irish Defence Forces.
Brian Patrick Friel was an Irish dramatist, short story writer and founder of the Field Day Theatre Company. He had been considered one of the greatest living English-language dramatists. He has been likened to an "Irish Chekhov" and described as "the universally accented voice of Ireland". His plays have been compared favourably to those of contemporaries such as Samuel Beckett, Arthur Miller, Harold Pinter and Tennessee Williams.
Mary Patricia McAleese ; née Leneghan is an Irish politician who served as the eighth President of Ireland from November 1997 to November 2011. She is an award-winning Catholic academic and author and holds a licentiate and doctorate in Canon law. She was the second female president of Ireland. McAleese was first elected in 1997, succeeding Mary Robinson, making her the first woman in the world to succeed another woman as president. She was reelected unopposed for a second term in office in 2004. On both occasions she was elected as an independent, although she was previously a member of Fianna Fáil. McAleese is the first president of Ireland to have come from either Northern Ireland or Ulster.
Aosdána is an Irish association of artists. It was created in 1981 on the initiative of a group of writers with support from the Arts Council of Ireland. Membership, which is by invitation from current members, is limited to 250 individuals; before 2005 it was limited to 200. Its governing body is called the Toscaireacht.
Camille Souter, born Betty Pamela Holmes, is a painter. Though born in Northampton, England, in 1929, she was raised in Ireland. She was elected Saoi of Aosdána in 2008.
Imogen Stuart is a German-Irish sculptor. She is one of Ireland's best known sculptors with work in public and private collections throughout Europe and the U.S..
The 2004 Irish presidential election was scheduled for 22 October 2004. However, nominations closed at noon on 1 October and the incumbent president, Mary McAleese, who had nominated herself in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, was the only candidate nominated. Accordingly, she was re-elected for a second seven-year term of office without the need to hold an election. This was the third time a president was returned unopposed, following Seán T. O'Kelly in 1952, and Patrick Hillery in 1983. McAleese was inaugurated for her second term on 11 November 2004.
Patrick Scott was an Irish artist.
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Mary White is an Irish businesswoman and former Fianna Fáil politician. She was a member of Seanad Éireann on the Industrial and Commercial Panel from September 2002, until April 2016 when she stood down.
Máire Mhac an tSaoi is an Irish language scholar, poet, writer and academic of modern literature in Irish. Along with Seán Ó Ríordáin and Máirtín Ó Direáin she is, in the words of Louis de Paor, "one of a trinity of poets who revolutionised Irish language poetry in the 1940s and 50s."
Benedict "Ben" Kiely was an Irish writer and broadcaster from Omagh, County Tyrone.
Micheal O'Siadhail is an Irish poet. Among his awards are The Marten Toonder Prize and The Irish American Culture Institute Prize for Literature.
Seóirse Bodley is an Irish composer and former associate professor of music at University College Dublin (UCD). He has been the first composer to become a Saoi of Aosdána in 2008. Bodley is widely regarded as one of the most important composers of twentieth-century art music in Ireland, having been "integral to Irish musical life since the second half of the twentieth century, not just as a composer, but also as a teacher, arranger, accompanist, adjudicator, broadcaster, and conductor".
Patrick Collins (1911–1994) was one of Ireland's foremost painters of the 20th century. He was elected HRHA in 1980 and a member of Aosdána in 1981 and had a major retrospective exhibition by the Irish Arts Council in 1982. Several solo exhibitions followed, including a Retrospective at Sligo Art Gallery in 1985. Two years later, Patrick Collins was the first artist to be honoured with the accolade SAOI by Aosdána in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the visual arts in Ireland. In 1988 he received an Honorary Doctorate of Literature from Trinity College, Dublin. His paintings have been exhibited widely in Ireland and in Europe, and are held in many public and private collections of Irish painting worldwide.
Roger Doyle is an Irish composer best known for his electro-acoustic work, for which he was made a Saoi of Aosdána, and for his piano music for theatre.
Michael Holohan is an Irish composer.
At today's General Assembly it was also announced that painter Camille Souter had been elected as Saoi. The honour of Saoi is for singular and sustained distinction in the arts: not more than seven artists may hold this honour at any one time.
Members of Aosdána may receive this honour of distinction in the arts, known as Saoi, and not more than five artists may hold this honour at any one time.
At the October General Assembly, Mr Samuel Beckett was elected as the first Saoi. In accordance with the regulations of Aosdána Uachtarán na hÉireann presents a Tore in recognition of the honour of Saoi to the recipient. By the end of the year arrangements were being made with Áras An Uachtaráin to give effect to this.
The Members of Aosdána elected Sean O’Faoláin as Saoi the highest honour for artistic achievement. Uachtarán na hEireann, Dr. Patrick Hillery, visited Dr. O’Faoláin in his private residence to present to him the Torc which is the symbol of the office of Saoi.
A new Saoi was elected in 1987, Patrick Collins, visual artist. At a special ceremony in Aras an Uachtaráin, Uachtarán na hEireann, Dr Patrick Hillery, presented Patrick Collins with the Torc which is the symbol of the office of Saoi.
Patrick Collins ... was also a member of Aosdana and was elected Saoi in 1987.
Three new Saoi, Mary Lavin, Louis le Brocquy and Tony O'Malley, were elected by the membership
She was elected 'Saoi' by Aosdana, in 1992, for her outstanding achievement in literature.
Tony O’Malley ... is a member of Aosdána and was elected Saoi in 1993.
In March, Benedict Kiely, novelist, short story writer and journalist, was elected to the office of Saoi in Aosdána. In October this honour was also conferred upon the ninety-four year old writer, Francis Stuart, a most important and controversial figure in the history of 20th century Irish literature. Both men were presented with the gold torc, the symbol of the Saoi, by President Mary Robinson at ceremonies at the Arts Council offices.
In 1998, a General Assembly and a Pre-Assembly meeting were held, poet Seamus Heaney was elected to the position of Saoi
He was a founder member of Aosdána and was elected a Saoi in 1997
Anthony Cronin, a founding member of Aosdána, was elected Saoi in March 2003, and conferred with the gold Torc, the symbol of the office of Saoi by President Mary McAleese, in a ceremony at the Arts Council offices on 27 June 2003.
Anthony Cronin was ... founding member of Aosdána, of which he was made a Saoi in 2003.
President of Ireland Mary McAleese ... presented both Camille and Seóirse with the symbol of the office, a gold Torc.
A conferring ceremony, at which the President of Ireland will present William Trevor with a torc, the symbol of Aosdána, will be announced in the coming months.