At a Commencements ceremony held in the Public Theatre on Friday 22 June 2018, Ann Martha Rowan, creator and editor of the Dictionary of Irish Architects, received an honorary degree from Trinity College Dublin. The citation read as follows;
‘Ann Martha Rowan served as Archivist in the Irish Architectural Archive for more than thirty years. During this time she single-handedly initiated and completed the Dictionary of Irish Architects, which was an enormous accomplishment and produced “one of the most valuable pieces of research in Irish Archival history” to quote her nominators. The Dictionary, which is openly available online, contains 6,700 entries for the period 1720-1940, each containing a biography of the architect, a list of his/her buildings (covering 49,000 buildings on the island of Ireland) and a bibliography. It has been described as “transformative” to the history of Irish architecture and has been universally praised for comprehensiveness and impeccable academic standards. This pioneering project is a great success story for the Digital Humanities.’
The Commencements was presided over by University Chancellor Mary Robinson in the presence of Provost Patrick Prendergast. Other honorary degree recipients included Tony Scott, James Simons, Senator Hillary Clinton and Paul Drechsler. The Archive staff attended, as did Chairman Michael Webb and his wife Melissa. Both the Archive’s Honorary Presidents – Edward McParland and Nicholas Robinson – were also there.
College Public Orator, Professor Anna Chahoud, delivered an encomium in Latin, part of which read (in paraphrase): ‘If you search for a modern account of Irish architecture, you will find none worthier of reverence than the work of Ann Marta Rowan, faithful historian of the Irish built landscape. Of gentle, modest, retiring nature, she has erected an imposing monument, achieving for the country what Sir Howard Colvin did for British architecture… On coming to Ireland, she has worked for over thirty years (and still works) in the Irish Architectural Archive, the splendid temple to Irish architecture erected in Merrion Square forty-two years ago, with which the College has such close connections. It was in the Archive that she came upon the treasure left by the eminent architect Alfred Gresham Jones. She transformed , and enormously enlarged, that wealth of material into a detailed, accurate, comprehensive biographical index of architects, builders and craftsmen, covering nearly fifty thousand buildings in our island. The Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720-1940 is not only immensely authoritative; it is a democratic masterpiece of Digital Humanities… In recognition of her faithful and generous service to the country, the University is proud to bestow on her the title of Master of Letters’.