Celebration | 

First Ashling Murphy scholarships presented by family at Fleadh Cheoil

The ceremony took place at The Comhaltas National Folk Orchestra of Ireland concert on Friday 5 August at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in Mullingar.

Ashling Murphy

Neasa CumiskeySunday World

The first-ever recipients of the Ashling Murphy Scholarships were presented with their awards this month by members of Ashling’s family.

The ceremony took place at The Comhaltas National Folk Orchestra of Ireland concert on Friday 5 August at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in Mullingar.

A special commemorative concert was given by the National Folk Orchestra at St Paul’s Church in advance of the ceremony. The late Ashling Murphy was a fiddle player in the group before her death in January.

Comhaltas, sponsored by Ken Barrett from KB Leisure, established three scholarships to recognise and remember the talent and legacy of the primary teacher, who was killed when she was attacked while out for a jog in Tullamore, Co Offaly earlier this year.

The group stated that they wish to “recognise and remember the talent” she had, by naming awards in her honour.

The first scholarship was awarded to Lisa Ward (31) from Leitrim for a project based on “community connections and providing access to the traditional arts for disadvantaged and minority groups in Dublin”.

The primary school teacher and musician hopes to hold lessons and classes in the capital with an end goal of developing a Comhaltas branch to continue “diversity and inclusion”.

Caoimhe Maddigan from Limerick and Molly Tobin from Wicklow received the second scholarship earlier this month.

They will use the €2,000 scholarship to help fund their project designing a music teaching curriculum for those with intellectual or sensory disabilities.

The final recipient of the year as fiddle player Jason McGuinnes from Sligo who plans to use the funding to help complete a detailed study into the music of west Sligo.

Speaking at the ceremony, Director General of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, Labhrás Ó Murchú, described the effect Ashling Murphy had on the lives of those she met during her short life.

“The word celebration in the context of Aisling Murphy is very, very important. Every person she met, was enriched by her, genuinely enriched. There was great connection she had with people,” he said.

“All of the people she met through Comhaltas, there is a sense within them that Ashling’s name will never be far from their lips or our heart.”

He went on to describe the purpose of the Ashling Murphy Scholarship and thanked her family for their presence on the occasion.

“Its purpose is to help people who are deprived or challenged in anyway, and music has a particular role in that regard. There is seldom sorrow where music is being played and its influence cannot be underrated.

“I would like to express my appreciation to you [the Murphy family], in a way you have been helping us. You have been inspirational and motivational and I’m not just using words loosely, I know I am expressing the sentiments of many people,” he added.

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