The Arthur Kerr Lecture Series

January 17

The Embassy of Ireland in partnership with Chiang Mai University presented The Arthur Kerr Lecture Series – ‘A life well lived: the pioneering Irish doctor, AFG Kerr – the Father of Thai Botany’, presented by Professor John Parnell from Trinity College Dublin.

Dr. Arthur Kerr was an Irish expatriate and medical doctor who spent 30 years of his life (1902-1932) living and working in Thailand, mainly in Chiang Mai. He made a major contribution to Thai society, in particular in relation to the study of botany in Thailand. Dr Kerr completed the first thorough botanical survey of the country and in addition was an excellent photographer and cartographer, he was a fluent Thai speaker and generally travelled on foot, or by elephant, to the areas of his research.

Dr. Kerr founded the Bangkok Herbarium and was appointed Government Botanist, though he preferred to base himself in Chiang Mai, where he also founded the original Botanical Gardens in the 1930’s.  Later he accepted the position from the Royal Palace as Director General of the newly formed Department of Agriculture, a very high position and a great honour for a foreigner.

Dr Kerr was awarded ‘The Most Exalted Order of the White Elephant – 4th Class’ and his work has forged a strong link between Ireland and Thailand in botany circles. HRH Princess Sirindhorn has a keen interest in this area and has visited Trinity College Dublin, where Dr Kerr graduated, to discuss his life and work.

The event was held at UNISERV, Chiang Mai University. Irish Ambassador Tony Cotter acknowledged the longstanding and positive relations between Ireland and Thailand and the importance of commemorating the work of Dr Kerr. The lecture was attended by 170 people from all walks of life.

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