Recipients of inaugural Ashling Murphy Memorial Entrance Scholarship

The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) and Mary Immaculate College (MIC) are delighted to announce that two talented musicians, Róisín O’Connor and Catherine Joyce, have been awarded the inaugural Ashling Murphy Memorial Entrance Scholarship.

The scholarship is awarded in memory of Ashling Murphy, who was killed just months after graduating from MIC as a primary teacher. To cherish her memory, the scholarship recognises her twin love for traditional Irish music and for teaching and is open to first-year Bachelor of Education students who have shown exceptional talents as traditional Irish music players. The scholarship is awarded jointly by MIC and the INTO.

Dorothy McGinley, INTO President welcomed the announcement:

‘Happiest When’ was Ashling’s last caption on a video she shared showing her, and her sister Amy, playing the fiddle and the concertina. Ashling’s passion for and dedication to traditional Irish music was inspiring to all those who knew her. In her short life she made an immense contribution to traditional Irish music. The INTO is delighted to collaborate with Mary Immaculate College on this scholarship in memory of Ashling Murphy and I warmly congratulate the two inaugural recipients of the scholarship.

Professor Eugene Wall, President of MIC, commented:

Ashling Murphy exemplified the qualities of what it means to be an excellent primary teacher and she was a lavishly talented traditional Irish musician. There was immense interest in this scheme and I am delighted to say that this scholarship has been awarded to two of MIC’s finest traditional Irish musicians. We, at MIC, wish both Catherine and Róisín great success here, both in their lives as students and as musical performers. We are happy to contribute to their educational and artistic futures.

Catherine Joyce, from Castlebar, Co. Mayo, is a first-year Bachelor of Education student and is an accomplished harpist, singer and flautist. Growing up around a number of talented musicians and tutors, including the Kilkenny family, Grainne Hambly, Laoise Kelly and Emer Mayock, Catherine developed a love for music from a young age. Catherine has taken part and placed in various prestigious music competitions, including the Fleadh, Arpademia Celtic Harp Competition, Wesley Interschools Music Competition, Gael Linn, O’Carolan Harp Festival Nobber, as well as performing at many live music events, including on Fleadh TV, the Gig Rig at Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann, Achill International Harp Festival, Live at Three concert in the Linenhall, the International Harp congress in Wales, and ‘Music of Mayo’ performance in Castlebar.

Speaking as she was announced as a scholarship awardee, Catherine said:

Ashling Murphy shared her musical talent freely and generously in her life. It is an immense honour and privilege to be able to continue her legacy through traditional music, something which she loved. I am looking forward to collaborating with Róisín, the joint recipient, and preserve a space where Ashling and her life can be remembered and celebrated.

Róisín O’Connor, from Killeigh in County Offaly, is a first-year student on the Bachelor of Education in Education & Psychology programme. Róisín plays flute and fiddle and has competed in numerous Fleadhanna at county, provincial and all-Ireland levels. She has many provincial titles on both fiddle and flute. Róisín has competed as a member of Grúpaí Cheol and céilí bands up to All-Ireland level and she continues to enjoy competing in the Fleadhanna. She has played as a solo and group member on Raidió na Gaeltachta, RTÉ Radio 1 and Midlands Radio 3 and has played and danced on the gig rig at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann and at many events all over the country.

She led the committee that hosted the 23-hour music marathon in memory of Ashling Murphy on St. Patrick’s Day 2022 which raised over €5,000 for Offaly Domestic Violence. She is also a member of the Misneach traditional orchestra led by Ciarán Fitzgerald and they perform at various venues throughout the year.

According to Róisín:

I am very honoured to have been chosen to receive this award in memory of Ashling Murphy. Through this scholarship I am very much looking forward to doing good work with Catherine and many others in the coming years in keeping Ashling’s memory alive.

Click here to find out more about the Ashling Murphy Memorial Entrance Scholarship.