D.Litt speech

ON 6TH APRIL 2022 Bob Quinn ws awarded a D. Arts (honoris causa) by NUIG. This was how he responded (in Irish)


"When I was nine years old, I had an accident and broke my elbow. I spent six weeks in the hospital because of gangrene. The danger was that my arm would be lost.

            But it wasn’t.

            When it was explained to me that it was not the prayers of my mother but the skill of the doctors that saved my arm, I decided, when I was older, that I would be – not a priest – but a doctor.

            Well, it took almost 80 years to get that title, but at last, a doctorate, by dad!

            But alas, I have never healed anything in my life. And I still don’t have a remedy for life. As my old friend, the writer Kurt Vonnegut, said: "Life is no way to treat an animal."

            You would think, because of this degree, that I am a wise man. That is far from the truth. I am sure of nothing but this: the only medicine for life is a sense of humour. As the man who was falling from a skyscraper and getting nearer to the ground said: ‘So far so good!’

            This is the first qualifcation that has been bestowed on me since I did the Leaving Cert almost seventy years ago. To tell you the truth, I have not had much connection with third-level education, expect for one thing: I always understood how ignorant I was.

            I said this to the writer Francis Stuart years ago and he answered: ‘Cherish your ignorance. It is the only unique thing you possess.’

            Despite this advice, in 1967, I took a break from filming and tv and spent a year as an ‘auditor’ at a university in Canada, reading and listening to lectures on sociology and everything associated with it. I did not want a degree however. These lectures opened the windows of my mind and let in light in the form of knowledge. For the first time, I understood how connected, or relative, everything is: every belief, every ideology, everything alive. It gave me mental freedom.

            But as my father said years before that: 'A little education is a dangerous thing’. He was absolutely right: in the end, I left the faith of my father, that of my ancestors, and I went with the enemy: socialism.

            But I also learnt just how generous scholars are with their knowledge: over the years, I have met with scholars such as Heinrich Wagner, Lelia Doolan, John Blacking, Paddy Henry, Alf MacLochlainn, Hilary Richardson, Micheál O'Connell, Deasún Fennell, Francoise Henry, Pádraic de Bhaldraithe, Donncha O hÉallaithe and many more. They shared their knowledge with me. They undertood what the poet Robert Graves said: ‘we expect scholars to excavate cleanly, so that their findings can be interpreted by poets and artists.’

            It should be said that poets and artists can make a total cock-up of those findings. I threw out almost every belief because they were, as another person said, "anathema to creativity."  And as Picasso said: "art is the illusion that illustrates the truth."

            Now I can live without a strict belief in anything, but with faith in everything, at the same time. That is to say: I can hold six contradictions in my head at the one time.

            There is a solution to this sickness in Gerard Manley Hopkins. As he wrote in  ‘Pied Beauty’:

"Glory be to God for dappled things...

    ...for All things counter, original, spare, strange; 

   Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?) 


I am happy that I have a ‘pied’ and ‘dappled’ mind. That is the proof that I have not grown up yet, that I am as young and as old as you, ladies and gentlemen. All our brains are dappled. But there is a solution to that too: imagination and curiosity. Always be curious.

Because of this honour, if I include six wonderful children and a patient wife, at last I can say: I have enjoyed life.

I understand that this is an honorary doctorate in arts. My hero, Dean Jonathan Swift, had to buy his doctorate, and he used the title constantly in his poetry.

In truth, because I know well that I do not deserve this honour, I am very grateful to the President of the university and to the institution.

Thank you very much everyone.        




Bob Quinn  6 April 2022


Fáilte go Conamara



NB. Bob Quinn films are now available on VIMEO. 

Poitin on Vimeo
Atlantean on Vimeo



for BOB QUINN films

The newly restored Atlantean films

are now available on two DVDs in pristine 16:9 format.

Check out "NADA' IMAGES
Neolithic Anti-Dealer Art
(can't be bought, sold or moved)
"...some form of gnarled, self-conscious, confrontational howl."
The Atlantean Irish


Book & film quartet of films.


The historic connection between Ireland & the Orient


The first episode can now be viewed on 'Dailymotion'



'Kill your Darlings' , a newish novel by Bob Quinn, is now available at Kindle Store.





Available at www.conamara.org