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Presidential Distinguished Service Award

2019 Presidential Distinguished Service Award Group Photo

Photo by Maxwell photography

About the Award

The Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad is presented by the President every year. It recognises the service given to this country or to Irish communities abroad by those who live outside Ireland.

The Award is not an honours system. It doesn’t give the recipients any legal entitlements or benefits, including Irish citizenship.

About the nominees

Whether they’re Irish citizens, entitled to Irish citizenship or from an Irish background, the hard work, energy and dedication of nominees make a valuable contribution to people’s lives and are deserving of our thanks and respect.

Who can be nominated?

Only people who live outside the island of Ireland can be nominated for the Award. They must have:

  • Given distinguished service to Ireland and/or its reputation abroad
  • Contributed to Ireland and/or its international reputation and/or Irish communities abroad in at least one of the categories listed below
  • Supported and engaged with Ireland and/or its international reputation and/or Irish communities abroad for at least five years, or have made a sustained and distinguished service on a global or international issue of importance

While the scheme is open to all people living abroad, it is primarily aimed at Irish citizens, those entitled to Irish citizenship and persons of Irish descent, who have made a sustained and distinguished service to Ireland or Irish communities abroad, or on a global or international issue of importance.

Who decides on the nominations?

Nominations for the Award are made through our Embassy network, and are considered by a High Level Panel. The Panel recommends up to a total of 10 people every year from these nominations. The categories under which individuals can be nominated are:

  • Arts, Culture and Sport;
  • Business and Education;
  • Charitable Works;
  • Irish Community Support;
  • Peace, Reconciliation and Development;
  • Science, Technology and Innovation (additional category introduced in 2016).

The Panel then submits its recommendations to the Government for approval.

2018 PDSA gallery

2017 PDSA gallery

2017 PDSA video

2016 PDSA video

2016 PDSA gallery

2015 PDSA video

2015 PDSA gallery

2014 PDSA video

2014 PDSA gallery

2013 PDSA video

2013 PDSA gallery

2012 PDSA video

2012 PDSA gallery

The concept

The Award is based on the concept of an open door, which leads to the landscape of Ireland. This captures the welcoming nature of both the Irish people and Ireland as a nation.


Making the Award

The award is made from Irish hardwoods and other locally-sourced materials, using a combination of modern and traditional technologies at Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology Letterfrack.

The designers

The award was designed by Spear Product Design, an award-winning, multidisciplinary design studio based in Dublin.

2021 Awards

The Award ceremony for the 2020 and 2021 recipients took place in Áras an Uachtaráin on 2nd December 2021.

The Awardees for 2021 are:

Arts, Culture and Sport

Susan Feldman (USA)

Roy Foster (Britain)

Br. Colm O’Connell (Kenya)

Business and Education

Sr. Orla Treacy (South Sudan)

Charitable Works

Doreen Nanibaa McPaul (USA)

Phyllis Morgan-Fann (Britain)

Jim O’Hara (Britain)

Irish Community Support

Adrian Flannelly (USA)

Billy Lawless (USA)

Peace, Reconciliation & Development

Bridget Brownlow (Canada)

Science, Technology & Innovation

Susan Hopkins (Britain)

2020 Awards

Arts, Culture and Sport

Jack Charlton (deceased - Britain)

James W. Flannery (US)

Mitsuko Ohno (Japan)

Fiona Shaw (Britain)

Business and Education

Michael J. Dowling (US)

Charitable Works

Sr. Louise Horgan (Thailand)

Alice Kennedy (deceased – Britain)

Dermot O’Leary (Britain)

Irish Community Support

Loretta Cosgrove (Australia)

Peace, Reconciliation and Development

William Duncan (The Netherlands)

Sr. Patricia Murray (Italy)

Fr. Kevin O’Hara (Nigeria)

Science, Technology and Innovation

Michael Ryan (Switzerland)

Dennis J. Slamon (US)

Presidential Distinguished Service Award Recipients from 2012 to 2020 inclusive

Nominations for the Presidential Distinguished Service Award are made through Ireland’s embassy network.

The nomination

Send the completed nomination form to the Irish Embassy of the country where your nominee lives

PDSA 2022 Nomination Form (Download to complete, as fields may not save in your browser)

Make sure your nomination includes:

1. The category under which the nomination is being made
2. Details of your nominee’s background and the contribution they have made to Ireland, Irish communities abroad, Ireland’s international reputation or on a global or international issue of importance.

Contacting the Embassy

See a full list of Irish Embassies and their contact details.

Please note that the Department of Foreign Affairs is covered by the Irish Freedom of Information Act 2014.

Closing date

The closing date for receipt of nominations at Embassies is Wednesday 25th May 2022.

Successful nominees are expected to be announced in October 2022.

See the full selection of videos and galleries at our YouTube Presidential Distinguished Service Awards Playlist