Trudy Mackay, director of Clemson's Center for Human Genetics, receives the prestigious Dawson Prize from Dublin geneticist Aoife McLysaght.

Trudy Mackay, director of Clemson’s Center for Human Genetics, receives the prestigious Dawson Prize from Dublin geneticist Aoife McLysaght (right).
Image Credit: Photo courtesy of Trinity College Dublin

DUBLIN, Ireland – Clemson University scientist Trudy Mackay was presented with the prestigious 2018 Dawson Prize in Genetics at Trinity College Dublin in early November.

Mackay, who is the director of Clemson’s Center for Human Genetics, spent almost a week in Ireland, where she received her prize, toured the university and city, gave a public lecture, and met with undergraduate and graduate students of the Smurfit Institute of Genetics. Mackay was accompanied by her husband Robert Anholt, Provost’s Distinguished Professor of Genetics and Biochemistry and also director of faculty excellence initiatives in the College of Science.

Here are a few snapshots of their Irish adventures:

 

The Molly Malone Statue is a bronze likeness of a fictional fishmonger of the same name.

The Molly Malone Statue is a bronze likeness of a fictional fishmonger of the same name.
Image Credit: Photo courtesy of Trudy Mackay

DOWNTOWN DUBLIN

Trudy and Robert’s flight arrived early on a Monday morning. Coffee jolted them awake. Dublin took care of the rest. The couple enjoyed a walking tour of the main commercial district, strolling on brick sidewalks and admiring the city’s eclectic blend of historic and contemporary sites. One of the highlights was stopping to visit the Molly Malone Statue, which is a bronze likeness of a fictional fishmonger of the same name. According to the Molly Malone Statue official website, certain portions have been discolored by “handsy” tourists.

FOOD AND DRINK HIGHLIGHTS: Fish and chips (Robert) and smoked chicken flatbred with baked brie and pomegranate dressing (Trudy) at Kennedys Bar and Restaurant, which was established in 1850 and is famous in part for employing Oscar Wilde.

QUOTES OF THE DAY: “Time to buy an Arran sweater – it’s cold!” – Trudy

“I enjoyed my first-ever Guinness at the pub, and back at the hotel I discovered Connemara malt, which is now my favorite Irish whiskey.” – Robert

 

Trudy Mackay and Robert Anholt were treated to a perfect rainbow during a tour of the seacoast.

Trudy Mackay and Robert Anholt were treated to a perfect rainbow during a tour of the seacoast.
Image Credit: Photo courtesy of Trudy Mackay

TOURING THE COAST

Trudy and Robert spent Tuesday and Wednesday on organized tours of Ireland’s western seacoast. On Tuesday, they visited the Connemara District and the harbor city of Galway. Connemara’s coastline, which faces the Atlantic, boasts a fascinating array of fishing villages, tiny coves and bays. On Wednesday, they went to the Cliffs of Moher, a towering bulwark of steep sea cliffs that runs for more than eight miles along the southwestern coast. There they saw ancient castles and crumbling ruins. At one point it poured rain. But when the sky cleared, they were treated to a perfect rainbow.

FOOD AND DRINK HIGHLIGHTS: Irish lamb stew, smoked salmon and locally brewed beer at the Brazen Head, which was established in 1198 and proudly proclaims to be Ireland’s oldest pub.

QUOTES OF THE DAY: “I’m not being much of a meat eater, so I wasn’t as impressed with the pub food as Robert was. But the pubs themselves were fascinating.” – Trudy

“Connemara was a beautiful and wild country. We even saw some ponies.” – Robert

 

Robert Anholt peers through the Double Helix, a famous sculpture located on the grounds of Trinity College Dublin.

Robert Anholt peers through the Double Helix, a famous sculpture located on the grounds of Trinity College Dublin.
Image Credit: Photo courtesy of Trudy Mackay

THE DOUBLE HELIX

On Thursday, Trudy and Robert arrived at Trinity Dublin College, which was founded in the late 16th century and is located in the heart of Dublin, and they quickly fell in love with the university’s grand buildings and ornate architecture. They were met by Aoife McLysaght, professor and chair of genetics at Trinity. Aoife (pronounced EE-fah) was vibrant, gracious and energetic, and she took Robert and Trudy on a spirited tour of the university grounds. It happened to be graduation day, and the students were dressed in black academic regalia with hoods timed in rabbit fur. Many of the male faculty were formally attired in tuxedos. The entire ceremony was spoken in Latin. Trudy and Robert spent a couple of hours in the afternoon speaking with David McConnell, a fellow geneticist who was the second department head of the genetics department and is currently a Pro-Chancellor. During their visit, they sat by a glowing fireplace and sipped sherry. Later that afternoon, Trudy gave a public lecture titled “From Flies to Humans, Humans to Flies,” during which she talked about the translational potential of Drosophila (fruit flies) that forms the foundation of Trudy’s renowned research. After the lecture, Trudy was awarded the Dawson Prize, which was presented in the form of a gold miniature of the sculpture “The Double Helix.”

FOOD AND DRINK HIGHLIGHTS: Trudy and Robert were taken to dinner at a seafood restaurant called Matt The Thresher, where they enjoyed some especially pleasant wine and Dover sole meuniere.

QUOTES OF THE DAY: “So much of the college looks very medieval. Very proper. Impressive architecture!” – Trudy

“The moment you walk onto Trinity’s grounds, it feels scholarly.” – Robert

 

The Clemson geneticists were entranced by the history and beauty of Trinity College Dublin.

The Clemson geneticists were entranced by the history and beauty of Trinity College Dublin.
Image Credit: Photo courtesy of Trudy Mackay

THE FINAL DAY

On Friday morning, Trudy met with a large group of final-year and graduate students. In the early afternoon, she led a seminar in front of a standing-room-only crowd. Later that afternoon, she met with a group of third-year students. Before leaving Trinity, Trudy and Robert were taken to “The Old Library,” which was built in the 18th century and which features an illuminated display of the “Book of Kells,” a ninth-century gospel manuscript that is famous throughout the world. Another highlight was the magnificent “Long Room,” which houses 200,000 of the library’s oldest books on its oaken shelves and is the inspiration for Hogwart’s Library in the Harry Potter films. After dinner, their adventures in Ireland came to an end and they flew back to South Carolina the next morning.

FOOD AND DRINK HIGHLIGHTS: Trudy and Robert enjoyed dinner at Pearl Brasserie, which featured French cuisine. One of the main dishes was squab (pigeon) with foie gras.

QUOTES OF THE DAY: “The seminar was really interesting because we were able to talk about the potential of students from Trinity coming here to Clemson next summer and doing some research. We were all very excited about this prospect.” – Trudy

“The library was beautiful, and it was very old. Some of the books looked like they would disintegrate in your hands if you tried to pick them up.” – Robert