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Taoiseach launches strategic North-South astronomy partnership

A new collaboration between three historic observatories on the island of Ireland was officially launched at a reception attended by An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD, held at the House of Lords, Bank of Ireland College Green on Friday, 26th May.

The Astronomical Observatories of Ireland partnership will see Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies – Dunsink Observatory partner with Armagh Observatory and Planetarium and Birr Castle Demesne to develop a joint programme of work across the three sites, as well as providing an opportunity for new forms of North-South co-operation between the observatories and the areas in which they’re based.

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, said, “The emerging partnership between the Astronomical Observatories of Ireland represents the best that both parts of this island have to offer in terms of contribution to international scientific research that literally helps us navigate the globe and understand the universe.

“The partnership also represents the best of co-operation between all the communities of this island, bringing innovation and research, science education, arts and cultural programming to new audiences.

“This can provide the creative inspiration to transcend current challenges on our shared island, in the way that humanity has always looked to the cosmos for inspiration.

“This partnership represents the kind of co-operation, shared programming and placemaking on which I hope we can continue to work together, North and South, for the betterment of all our people for the 21st Century.”

Echoing the comments of An Taoiseach, Professor Peter Gallagher, Director of DIAS Dunsink Observatory and Chairperson of Birr Castle Demesne, said, “We are very pleased to have reached this significant milestone of officially launching the Astronomical Observatories of Ireland – what promises to be both an exciting and important initiative for all three observatories.

“Although there are significant astronomical legacies across all three observatories, this North-South partnership will strengthen our collaboration and facilitate closer cooperation across our work and future projects.

“We are delighted to have An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar join us to officially launch the partnership. His support for the initiative is recognised, and goes a long way in helping us demonstrate the significance and potential of the partnership.”

Professor Michael Burton, Director at Armagh Observatory and Planetarium, adds, “We are delighted to launch the Astronomical Observatories of Ireland Partnership, together with our partners, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies – Dunsink Observatory and Birr Castle Demesne. It is a pleasure to welcome An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to the occasion.

“Through a newly-refreshed North-South collaboration, this vital initiative will add value in the areas of knowledge, engagement, research and heritage promotion, and that it will facilitate a sense of a shared history and future based on over two centuries of cooperation between the three institutions at Armagh, DIAS Dunsink and Birr.”