• Ulster Senior Championship QF - Down v Antrim

Ulster Secretary awarded Doctorate

July 4th, 2012

The University of Ulster today Conferred the Award of Honorary Doctorate in Science (D.Sc) on Ulster GAA Secretary & Director Danny Murphy for his services to Sport and Community Relations.

Uachtarán Chumann Luthchleas Gael (President of the GAA) Liam O’Neill said: “This is a proud day for the GAA and Ulster. We are delighted that Danny Murphy’s long standing and immense contribution to our Association has been recognised in this way by the University of Ulster. Danny’s vision and leadership has been at the core of the GAA’s Community Engagement and Outreach work, which has a strong and positive impact right across the Community.

“I am personally delighted to see Danny receive this level of recognition for all his hard work and know I speak on behalf of the wider GAA family by acknowledging this accolade. We wish him many more years of active involvement at all levels of the GAA.”

Uachtarán Chumann Luthchleas Gael Comhairle Uladh (President of Ulster GAA): Aogán Ó Fearghail said: “The entire GAA in Ulster will be delighted at the news today that our Provincial Secretary and Director has been honoured by the University of Ulster for his considerable work in both the spheres of Sport and Community Relations. Danny Murphy’s contribution to the GAA has been immense, a former Vice President of the GAA and President of Ulster GAA he has been Chief Executive Officer for the Ulster GAA since 1998 and it is no coincidence that the last 14 years have been a time of considerable change, improvement and success for the entire GAA in Ulster, Danny has been core to all of these developments.

“Danny has overseen more than £100 million of investment in GAA projects and has put in place a strong strategic vision which has resulted in an unprecedented level of success for this Province. Danny’s vision and leadership has been core to the GAA’s Community Engagement and Outreach work which has a strong and positive impact right across our Community. On a personal level I am delighted to see Danny receive this level of recognition for all his hard work and I thank the University of Ulster for bestowing this honour on both him, his family and his Club St. Mary’s Burren GAA.”

Senator Dr. Martin McAleese
I am delighted that my friend Dr. Danny Murphy has been honoured for his significant work in the fields of sport and community relations. Danny has led the GAA’s community engagement work for over a decade and has played an important role in promoting reconciliation and friendship across the Community. Danny has done this work in a quiet and respectful manner and has never sought recognition of any kind and that is why today’s award is particularly fitting.

Rt Hon Peter Robinson MLA First Minister and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MP MLA
We both congratulate Dr. Danny Murphy on this well deserved accolade. His outstanding contribution to the development of sport is to be commended. Danny has also played a significant and important role in promoting reconciliation, tolerance and respect across our Community by outreaching and engaging with many different groups and individuals. We both pay tribute to him and we look forward to working with him in the years ahead.

Trevor Ringland
Over many years you have shown through your leadership and grace that despite our past we can build a genuinely shared future where we all work and live together constructively for the benefit of us all. By your words and actions, using courage and friendship, you have proven we can create that sense of interdependence between the people of this island, no matter what an individuals view is on the constitutional position, and that is surely the greatest tribute we can pay to all of those who lost so much due to our past.

Below is Danny’s conferment address

Vice Chancellor, Dr. Hasson, Graduates of the Class of 2012, Ladies and Gentlemen, distinguished guests.

I am grateful to the University and to you Vice Chancellor for bestowing this great honour on me today. It is also a great privilege to be among the youthful Class of 2012 who today with their families are celebrating their hard work and success while dreaming about the future paths that lie ahead and I hope all are thinking about how you play your part in that future.

My life has been an interesting journey from Grinain in South Down to being here today. I am a proud Down man who comes from the Gaelic and Irish tradition, a tradition that has enriched me and that I am committed to and a tradition that was passed down to me by both my parents who along with my brothers and sisters introduced me to the Gaelic Athletic Association; its workings; and the games of Hurling, Football and Handball.

My hero Dr. Martin Lurther King once said “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.” Serious words, by a great man dealing with serious issues in a difficult time.

The GAA has moulded me and ultimately led to me being before you today. It is and remains an organisation where people are judged not on their religion, political identity or social class but like Martin Luther King urged, on the content of their character. That is why it has been and remains so important for me and hundreds of thousands of others in Ulster.

My family tradition and Gaelic cultural identity have both enriched and improved my life and given me a set of values that have served me very well. My parents taught me the importance of being confident in my own identity and having the utmost respect for others who might be different. My philosophy is simple: you cannot celebrate who you are if you don’t respect who others are.

To quote Dr. King again: “I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream.”

We still face many challenges as a society, there is still sectarianism and there is still hate however there is also hope. Many of you that sit in this auditorium today will thankfully not remember the dark days that this community faced in the past; there has been an unbelievable journey that this community has taken over the last 20 years; there is still some road to travel. Many have suffered and many still feel pain but today however I can safely say your future will be centred around a peaceful and reconciled Country.

My Club is St. Mary’s Burren and we have a simple motto and I would urge all of you who are graduating today to make this the motto of your generation “Ar Aghaidh le Chéile” or simply “Onwards Together.” We are all celebrating here on Independence Day and we should be aware that society benefits on interdependence of people who work for its enhancement for all of us.

The GAA is a wonderful and unique organisation. It has many strengths. Among them are its attachment to place and community and its unmatched ability to allow people to make statements about who they are and where they are from. In doing that, it is not ‘anti’ who anybody else are or where they might be from. Another core strength is the voluntary work carried out by the thousands of committed and dedicated GAA people. This idealism makes the GAA the envy of all other voluntary movements across the world. I like to think that idealism is also at home here in this institution, the University of Ulster.

The GAA is now by rule an anti-sectarian and anti-racist organisation that is committed to a shared future based on tolerance and respect, and while like all of society we still have legacy issues to address we want the indigenous games of this island to be shared by everyone in our community.

I am also a proud Ulster Man. Our great and shared Province is an example to the entire world; this building in this thriving and diverse city is the embodiment of the future we all can build. Positivity, innovation, confidence and trust are the pillars on which we can build a better and shared future however all of this depends on the willingness of all of us to engage, respect and work with each other. In the words of Margaret Mead “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”

I have a privileged life, a life of quality; of excitement, joy and some success. Mahatma Gandhi once said “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” When the service of others doubles up with doing something that you’re engrossed in and in the company of people you admire and respect, then you’re fortunate indeed. I am that fortunate man.

I work with many groups of committed volunteers in the GAA. These are people who give their time; their expertise; and their money freely to their Community and their sense of place, the GAA is an extension of family. I can’t miss but point out that much of the expertise that now helps drive the GAA at all levels in Ulster was developed within and handed on by this University; we are very aware of your continuing legacy. All of the Ulster Council and its Officers are volunteers and it’s a privilege to serve alongside them. I lead a dynamic, youthful, innovative and sometimes aggressive staff team. They are dedicated to excellence; to the GAA; and to servicing the Counties and Province of Ulster. I am grateful to them all for their unflinching and happy commitment to our shared work and vision.

Today as I reflect on my own journey I think of all of those who contributed to the tapestry of my life. They include men like John Vesey and Peter Harte, former Presidents of the Ulster Council; people like my friend Gerry McGovern and my former teacher Colm Powell who introduced me to the games of Hurling and Football and a man who had a profound impact on my life as well as on thousands of others, the late Sean Murdock. I also would like to think all of those who have shown leadership throughout the GAA and this Community during my life.

I also think of my parents; my family; and my wide Circle of friends both inside and outside the GAA. I think of all the young people whose lives were cut tragically short in particular my nephew Mark, Aidan McAnespie, Paul McGirr, Cormac McAnallen, Ronan Kerr and Michaela McAreavey among so many others who no longer walk with us on our journey.

I dedicate this doctorate to my family, to all of those who contribute to making Ulster, or their part of it, a better place and to those who are no longer with us on the journey and whose memories we cherish and fully appreciate.

We are great people, a society with talent, creativity, vision, confidence and passion; our capacity to do good is limitless and there is no obstacle we cannot collectively over-come.

I accept this Doctorate proudly and I thank the Vice Chancellor and Dr. David Hasson for nominating me for this award. But even with it proudly in my tight grip, to quote the unofficial motto of Ulster Council GAA “the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die.”

Let me finish with another quote again from my hero, Martin Luther King, and I ask all of you to take this as a small piece of advice with you as you embark upon a new and wonderful phase of your journey through life:

“Everybody can be great … because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love.”

So graduates of 2012 go forth and dedicate your lives to the service of each other and of our community.

Go gcuire Dia rath agus blath oraibh.

Encomium by Dr David Hasson

Media enquires:
Ryan Feeney – 07920 528790 / ryan.feeney.ulster@gaa.ie