Throughout its history the ILS has attracted major literary figures to serve on its committee and in key posts in the Society. The President of the ILS is the poet and academic Bernard O’Donoghue. He is the most recent in a notable line of Presidents starting with Charles Gavan Duffy, a founder of the Nation newspaper and Young Ireland movement, and including Anne Yeats and the poet Seamus Heaney who died in 2013 having held the post of ILS President for many years. The ILS Vice President is the celebrated historian R. F. Foster.

Vice President and President

Roy Foster
Roy Foster | Vice President

Roy Foster recently retired as Carroll Professor of Irish history at Oxford, he is a fellow of Hertford College. He has written widely on Irish history, society and politics in the modern period, as well as on Victorian high politics and culture. Foster produced a widely acclaimed biography of William Butler Yeats which was awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. His most recent book is On Seamus Heaney (Princeton, 2020) – his discussion with Catherine Heaney on this can be viewed here.

Bernard O'Donoghue
Bernard O’Donoghue | President

Bernard O’Donoghue is a Professor and Emeritus Fellow in English at Wadham College, Oxford. He is a poet and literary critic, and author of Seamus Heaney and the Language of Poetry (1995) – he succeeded Heaney as President of the ILS. His most recent poetry collection is The Seasons of Cullen Church (2016). Previous volumes include Farmer’s Cross (2011), Gunpowder (1995), Here Nor There (1999); Outliving (2003), Selected Poems in 2008. O’Donoghue was winner of the 1995 Whitbread Poetry Award and Cholmondeley Award in 2009.


At the 2018 AGM of the Society its members voted to mandate the Committee to seek charitable status. This objective was achieved in March 2021. Four members of the Committee agreed to act as the Society’s charity trustees. It is the trustees’ duty to operate the charity for the public benefit. The trustees are Gavin Clarke; James Lazar (Chair); Dr Michelle Paull; Peter Power Hynes. The Committee will still function but legal authority for the Society rests with the trustees.


Since the Society has become a charity (2021) it has been governed by the model Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) constitution that it adopted. The Society is run by a committee which is elected each year at our AGM. The Honorary Secretary is the ILS’s producer, taking responsibility for the annual programme of events and for receiving suggestions in writing for improvements to the Society: 

Current Committee:
Chairman – James Lazar
Honorary Secretary – Gavin Clarke
Honorary Treasurer – Peter Power Hynes
Honorary Membership Secretary – Fionnuala Cullen

Nora Connolly
Dr. Charlene Murphy
Dr. Michelle Paull