Philanthropist Chuck Feeney and the late Australian rules footballer Jim Stynes are among the first people to receive a Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish abroad.
Ten people received the award this evening.
It is given to people who live outside country who have given distinguished service to the nation or its reputation.
Among those receiving this honour is Sister Lena Deevy, originally from Laois. She is being recognised for her work in Boston where she specialises in creating job centres, drug abuse programs, playgroups for children, and home care service centres.
The Australian Rules Footballer Jim Stynes, known not just as a sporting icon but also for his charity work, died earlier this year.
His widow Sam Stynes accepted the award on his behalf for his contribution to Arts, Culture and Sport.
These awards have been established to give formal recognition by the State to individuals living abroad.
They are divided into five categories for contribution in areas such as Arts, Culture and Sport, Business and Education, Charitable Works, Irish Community Support, and Peace Reconciliation and Development.
This recognition is for persons living abroad, primarily Irish citizens, those entitled to Irish citizenship and people of Irish descent, who have made a sustained and distinguished service to Ireland or Irish communities abroad.
Nominations were made by Irish communities abroad through Ireland's network of Diplomatic Missions.
The award will now be presented on an annual basis.