5 Oct 2022

AONTAS becomes first organisation to be inducted to international Hall of Fame

Dearbháil and Niamh, with Dr Séamus Ó Tuama and previous awardee Professor Maria Slowey


AONTAS has received the 2022 International Adult and Continuing Education (IACE) Hall of Fame award, the first time the award has been won by an organisation.

The award was presented by the IACE Hall of Fame based in the University of Oklahoma. Recently-appointed CEO of AONTAS, Dearbháil Lawless, and her predecessor, Dr Niamh O’Reilly, accepted the award in a special presentation at the ASEM Lifelong Learning Conference in Cork.  

AONTAS supports thousands of adults, of all ages and backgrounds, to return to learning each year through advocacy work, promotion of adult education, and through the One Step Up information service. This induction to the IACE Hall of Fame highlights AONTAS as a global leader in the adult and continuing education sector.

Accepting the award, Dearbháil paid tribute to the tireless work of her colleagues in adult education across Ireland and to her predecessor Niamh O’Reilly, who also received an individual award for her contribution to the adult education sector.

Dearbháil said: “AONTAS believes that all adults deserve the right to quality lifelong learning opportunities that are both empowering and transformative. 

“Having worked closely with our former CEO Niamh O’Reilly, I am delighted to see her great work in the sector recognised today as well. She has been an incredible advocate and changemaker for adult learners in Ireland and along with my colleagues in AONTAS, we are continuing to carry on that important work and raising the voices of people returning to education.”

Dearbháil also thanked Professor Ted Fleming and Professor Peter Lavender who nominated AONTAS for the award.

Niamh said: “We are so honoured to receive this award and it is a testament not just to our work in AONTAS, but to the work of every single partner organisation we work with across Ireland to support people in their local communities. Often, those who work in adult education aren’t solely tutors or teachers, they are pillars of support for individuals embarking on something new and possibly very challenging. Their impact has an incredible domino effect for wider society.” 


If you would like to learn more or become a member of AONTAS, contact Membership Engagement Officer Barry Dolan.