The first recipients of the Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann Ashling Murphy Scholarship received their awards in a poignant ceremony at St Paul’s Church in Mullingar on Friday evening.
Comhaltas created the scholarships to recognize and remember the talent and legacy of the late Mrs. Murphy, a popular teacher and performer. The prizes, worth €2,000 to the recipients, were presented at the National Folk Orchestra concert on Friday August 5 at St Paul’s Church, by Ashling’s parents, Ray and Kathleen, his sister Amy and her godfather Ken Barrett. Ashling was a valued and much loved member of the National Folk Orchestra.
Speaking at the ceremony, CCE Chief Executive Labhrás Ó Murchú said Ashling has had a profoundly positive impact on those she meets.
“The word celebration in the context of Aisling Murphy is very, very important. Every person she met was enriched by her, truly enriched. There was a great connection she had with people.
“Everyone she met through Comhaltas feels that Ashling’s name will never be far from their lips or from our hearts.”
Mr. Ó Murchú also explained that the objective of the scholarship program “is to help people who are deprived or in difficulty in any way, and music plays a special role in this respect”.
“There is seldom heartbreak where the music is played and its influence cannot be underestimated,” he said.
Ashling was also remembered at the official opening of the Fleadh Cheoil on Sunday, when chairman Michael D Higgins paid tribute to people in Irish traditional music who have died in recent years.
He said: “Let us take the opportunity of this gathering to think of those music creators we have sadly lost during the pandemic, including Denis Cahill, Paddy Maloney of the Chieftains and accordionist Tony McMahon, to name but three. among a whole company of people we have lost, who had generously given their lives and their music for all of us.
“And given where we are, let’s also remember the lovely Ashling Murphy, the young Irish schoolteacher and generous Irish traditional musician who was taken from us earlier and so tragically.”
The first Scoláireachtaí Ashling Murphy was awarded to Lisa Ward (31), originally from Leitrim and living in Dublin 13. She was an elementary school teacher for nine years after earning her Bachelor of Education from Mary Immaculate College, UL, 2012. Lisa also holds an MA Irish Traditional Music Performance from the Irish World Academy of Irish Music and Dance, UL in 2013. She plays violin, tin-whistle, flute and piano. She won the 2010 Senior All-Ireland Fiddle Competition. She has two solo albums, is a county, province and All Ireland judge. She also teaches in many summer schools around the world.
Lisa’s project is based on community links and access to traditional arts for disadvantaged and minority groups in Dublin.
The second Ashling Fellowship was awarded to Caoimhe Madigan. Caoimhe started playing traditional music at the age of four, when she started Feadóg at the Seamus Ennis Center at The Naul. Caoimhe was music captain and music student of the year in high school, as branch youth leader she received Gradam na nÓg award for outstanding service to Comhaltas. She started teaching music at the age of 15 and now gives individual and group lessons. She is currently in her final year at St Pat’s, Drumcondra, studying music and religion.
Caoimhe’s project is to develop a program specifically for young students with intellectual or sensory disabilities who cannot access regular classes.
The final scholarship was awarded to Jason McGuinness from Dromore West in Sligo. Jason is a renowned violin player with a keen interest in the musical heritage of his home country. He has won several All-Ireland titles in fiddle, drums, duo, céilí band and Grúpa Ceoil and most recently the All-Ireland Senior Fiddle Competition at Fleadh Fest 2021. He is the first Sligo winner since 1970 of the prestigious Fiddler of Dooney competition. . Jason’s project is a detailed study of the music of West Sligo.
The Sligo County Fleadh is set to take place in West Sligo in 2023 and it is the perfect setting to launch and grow this proposition.
— Niall Breslin (@nbrez) August 6, 2022