Billionaire Irish American philanthropist Chuck Feeney, Australian Rules Footballer Jim Stynes and Sister Lena Deevy don't live in Ireland but this year they are being honored for their distinguished service to the nation.

Through his work with of The Atlantic Philanthropies, one of the largest private foundations in the world, Feeny has transformed Irish education and played a key role in the search for peace in the north.

Although Australian Rules Footballer Jim Stynes, known also for his charity work, died earlier this year his legacy was commemorated at the awards ceremony. His widow Sam Stynes accepted the award on his behalf for his contribution to Arts, Culture and Sport.

Sister Lena Deevy was reportedly recognized for her work in Boston where she specialises in creating job centres, drug abuse programs, playgroups for children, and home care service centres.

According to RTE the awards were established to give formal recognition by the State to individuals living abroad.

They awards themselves are divided into five categories such as Arts, Culture and Sport, Business and Education, Charitable Works, Irish Community Support, and Peace Reconciliation and Development.

Nominations were reportedly made by Irish communities abroad through Ireland's network of Diplomatic Missions.

Michael D Higgins