Saoi (pl. saoithe; lit. "wise one"; hist. head of poetic school; master), is the highest honour that members of Aosdána
Aosdána is an Irish association of Artists. It was created in 1981 on the initiative of a group of writers and with support from the Arts Council of Ireland. Membership, which is by invitation from current members, is limited to 250 individuals; before 2005 it was limited to 200...

, an association of people in Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 who have achieved distinction in the arts, can bestow upon a fellow member. No more than seven living members can be so honoured at one time.

The title of Saoi is conferred by the President of Ireland
President of Ireland
The President of Ireland is the head of state of Ireland. The President is usually directly elected by the people for seven years, and can be elected for a maximum of two terms. The presidency is largely a ceremonial office, but the President does exercise certain limited powers with absolute...

 (following election from among the membership of Aosdána) and held for life. A torc
A torc, also spelled torq or torque, is a large, usually rigid, neck ring typically made from strands of metal twisted together. The great majority are open-ended at the front, although many seem designed for near-permanent wear and would have been difficult to remove. Smaller torcs worn around...

 (a twist/spiral of gold, worn around the neck) is presented to each Saoi by the President and/or Administrator.

Nominating Process

A committee of ten members of Aosdána referred to as the Toscaireacht  monitor and manage the nominating process to confirm adherence to the established rules. Fifteen members of the Aosdána must nominate a candidate of merit and distinction. An election by secret ballot
Secret ballot
The secret ballot is a voting method in which a voter's choices in an election or a referendum are anonymous. The key aim is to ensure the voter records a sincere choice by forestalling attempts to influence the voter by intimidation or bribery. The system is one means of achieving the goal of...

  then occurs with all members. Approval is determined by at least 50% + 1 of the membership voting approval.

Only one nomination per vacancy may be processed through an election at a time. If multiple candidate submissions are received, they go through the election process one at a time until a successful approval is declared. Subsequent nominees are held until there is a future vacancy.

Some members of Aosdána who have been given the title of Saoi

  • Samuel Beckett
    Samuel Beckett
    Samuel Barclay Beckett was an Irish avant-garde novelist, playwright, theatre director, and poet. He wrote both in English and French. His work offers a bleak, tragicomic outlook on human nature, often coupled with black comedy and gallows humour.Beckett is widely regarded as among the most...

  • Mary Lavin
    Mary Lavin
    Mary Josephine Lavin was a noted Irish short story writer and novelist. She is regarded as a pioneering female author in the traditionally male-dominated world of Irish letters. Her subject matter often dealt explicitly with feminist issues and concerns at a time when the primacy of the Roman...

  • Benedict Kiely
    Benedict Kiely
    Benedict "Ben" Kiely was an Irish author and broadcaster from Omagh, County Tyrone, Ireland.-Early life:Benedict Kiely was born in Dromore, County Tyrone to Thomas John and Sara Alice Kiely. He was the youngest of six children, the others were Rita, Gerald, Eileen, Kathleen and Macartan; four of...

  • Louis le Brocquy
    Louis le Brocquy
    Louis le Brocquy is an Irish painter born in Dublin. His work has received many accolades in a career that spans seventy years of creative practice...

  • Sean O'Faolain
  • Francis Stuart
    Francis Stuart
    Henry Francis Montgomery Stuart was an Irish writer. His novels have been described as having a thrusting modernist iconoclasm. Awarded the highest artistic accolade in Ireland before his death in 2000, his unwillingness to take a clear moral stance with regard to his years spent in Nazi...

  • Patrick Collins
    Patrick Collins
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  • Tony O'Malley
    Tony O'Malley
    Tony O'Malley was a self-taught Irish painter. He was born in Callan, County Kilkenny, Ireland and, while he drew and painted for private pleasure from childhood, he worked as a bank officìal until a long battle with tuberculosis in the 1940s knocked him off the normal course of his life...

  • Seamus Heaney
    Seamus Heaney
    Seamus Heaney is an Irish poet, writer and lecturer. He lives in Dublin. Heaney has received the Nobel Prize in Literature , the Golden Wreath of Poetry , T. S. Eliot Prize and two Whitbread prizes...

  • Anthony Cronin
    Anthony Cronin
    Anthony Cronin is an Irish poet. He received the Marten Toonder Award for his contribution to Irish literature....

  • Brian Friel
    Brian Friel
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  • Aidan Higgins
    Aidan Higgins
    -Life:His upbringing in a landed Catholic family in Celbridge, County Kildare, Ireland, provided material for his first experimental novel, Langrishe, Go Down...

  • Patrick Scott
    Patrick Scott
    Patrick Scott is an Irish artist.Patrick Scott had his first exhibition in 1944, but trained as an architect and did not become a full time artist until 1960. He worked for fifteen years for the Irish architect Michael Scott, assisting, for example, in the design of Busáras, the central bus...

  • Camille Souter
    Camille Souter
    Camille Souter, born Betty Pamela Holmes, is a painter. Though born in Northampton, England, in 1929, she was raised in Ireland. She was elected Saoi of Aosdána in 2008....

  • Seóirse Bodley
    Seóirse Bodley
    Seóirse Bodley is an Irish composer and former associate professor of music at University College Dublin . He has been Saoi of Aosdána since 2008.-Biography:...

  • Sean O'Cadhain
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