Dr Victor Laing – Doctoris Honoris Causa – UCD 25 April 2016
The Board of Directors of The Military Heritage of Ireland Trust (CLG) convey its sincere congratulations to Commandant Victor Laing (Retd) who was conferred with the Degree, Honoris Causa, of Doctor of Laws by University College Dublin, on Monday, 25 April 2016. Commandant Laing (Retd) is a founder member, and remains an active and valued member of the Trust. He is also a Council member of The Military History Society of Ireland. While serving with Óglaigh na hÉireann, Victor was OIC Military Archives, Cathal Brugha Barracks, Dublin.
The conferring ceremony was part of UCD’s contribution to the Decade of Centenaries. Those who were also conferred with honorary degrees on this special occasion were: Ms Catriona Crowe – National Archives, Professor Roy Foster – Professor of Irish History at Hertford College, Mr Justice Gerard Hogan – Irish Court of Appeal, Professor Joe Lee – former Senator and Professor of Irish Studies New York University, and Professor Michael Mann – Professor of Meteorology Pennsylvania State University.
The centrepiece of Royal College of Surgeons Ireland’s 2016 commemorative programme, was a special exhibition “Surgeons and Insurgents – RCSI and the Easter Rising” and accompanying public lecture series during the months of March and April. In this context, Comdt Laing (Retd) lectured on “The Rising-A Statement of Intent, Successes and Failures”.
Retiring from the Defence Forces in 2012, Commandant Laing dedicated a considerable part of his distinguished military career to archives. Taking over from Commandant Peter Young RIP, he was appointed OIC Military Archives in 1999. He was instrumental, inter alia, for the formal recognition of Military Archives as a separate place of deposit under the National Archives Act 1986, the release of the Bureau of Military History in 2003, reorganisation of Military Archives in 2008 which included the employment of civilian archivists, the release of the Chief of Staffs’ Reports of the Emergency, the accession of over 1,000 priceless private collections, and the launch of the Military Archives website in 2011 (www.militaryarchives.ie).
In 2011, under the auspices of the Irish Manuscripts Commission and Military Archives, Dr Michael Kennedy and Commandant Victor Laing published an edited volume of the Irish Defence Forces Chief of Staffs’ Reports 1940 – 1949.
Comdt Laing (Retd) laid the foundation for the digitisation and online launch of the Bureau of Military History (1913 – 1921) and the Collection and the Military Service (1916 – 1923) Pensions Collection, the development of Outreach Programmes, and the enhancement of both Research capacity and Reading Room facility.
It is worth recalling that on the day following the conferring of the Doctorate Degree on Commandant Laing (Retd), Mr Michael D. Higgins, Uachtarán na hÉireann, opened the purpose built Military Archives facility at Cathal Brugha Barracks.
The new facility for Military Archives provides a lasting legacy and an appropriate tribute to the vision, dedication and professionalism of Dr Victor Laing, the late Commandant Peter Young, the military and civilian staff, and the countless number of volunteers who have worked in Military Archives over the years.