NOVELIST Joseph O'Connor and broadcaster Olivia O'Leary were conferred with an honorary degree of Doctor of Literature by University College Dublin yesterday.
"Some of the happiest years of my life were spent as a student in UCD," said a delighted Mr O'Connor, whose critically-lauded books include 'Star of the Sea'.
"For that reason, it's a delight as well as an immense and humbling privilege to receive this honorary doctorate. I made the best of lifelong friends there and had the finest teaching imaginable.
"It was also where my first attempts at fiction were made, the beginnings of a story, the opening lines of my life as a writer. So I am deeply grateful and honoured by this homecoming," he said.
The UCD doctorate was the first part of what will be a double honour for Mr O'Connor: next February he is to receive the Irish PEN award for outstanding contribution to Irish literature.
PEN is an international association of writers.
Ms O'Leary was described as "one of the country's most respected journalists and most loved commentators" by politics and international relations Professor David Farrell who presented her with the degree.
"She is a true craftswoman with words, producing vivid images, wonderful turns of phrase, as was revealed to the wider world to such great effect during her speech at the National Convention Centre last May in honour of the queen's visit," he said.
Ms O'Leary joined RTE in the 1970s as a news reporter and current affairs presenter and is a political contributor on Mary Wilson's 'Drivetime'.
Irish-American writer Mary Gordon was also conferred with a degree as was Italian crime writer Andrea Camilleri.