Beatrice Barry-Murphy Conferred with Honorary Fellowship by WIT
Between the integrity of the educational care provided for children and adolescents and the quality of our society there is an inextricable link. Sometimes it may seem as if our educational policies are only concerned with pupils as economic units – dehumanised, depersonalised. In the historical retrospective can we, for example, say that our educational practices always provided primacy of place to the learner, to the process rather than the outcome? Can we truly say that our curriculum is pupil-centred or student-centred or holistic? In the historical retrospective can we say that our education values were characterised by considerations of the person, wellbeing and health? Did our educational values seek to strengthen community solidarity, social awareness and other diverse spiritual or aesthetic features?
These are challenging questions. They highlight that which will cause discomfort, perhaps. They confirm that the quest for the perfect education system is not over. They alert us to dangers that lie inherently in an approach which fails to recognise the importance of social personal and health education.
It was to this call that Beatrice Barry-Murphy responded. From her teaching experience in New Ross she audited the need and defined the deficit. Moreover, she calculated to find a solution. She committed to contribute to a curriculum development and a new programme designed to promote in pupils the capacity to develop a self-concept, a self-belief and a sense of internal affirmation.
The road fulfilled by Beatrice Barry-Murphy resonates in significant ways and in historical ways with others who have pursued that path - Grace Paterson, Kate Cox, Caroline Clarke and C. H. Spence. Notably they were women. They served as volunteers and as pioneers and as adventurers – challenging and daring in their attitude, relentless and remorseless of purpose. Determined not only to influence policy, but to make it also.
Beatrice Barry-Murphy features in that community and she features strongly. Her specialist background is that of a teacher, not in the formal or reserved sense of that word, but in the sense that she is an organiser of learning and an enabler.
This is a special talent – that imagination and insight to see into others. To measure opportunity for them, to make way and make space that others can succeed. To inspire and to motivate.
It was essentially to that enabling role that Beatrice devoted so much of her attention, so much of her enthusiasm. The sense in which she is appreciated by so many, the sense in which her generosity is reciprocated is evident in this evening’s large gathering of those who wish to add their tribute in a personal way.
Through her work the SPHE programmes enjoy enhanced and extended status. She advanced the accreditation process to the levels of higher diploma and masters. She has led by example to provide an important curricular seam to the learning environment of our schooling system
Continuing to think in creative ways in order to meet the challenge of change and the challenge of time. The Family Communication and Self Esteem Parenting programme represents another enduring commitment. She does not easily tire, she is not easily averted from her cause.
Beatrice Barry-Murphy, your name is now written in the annals of the Waterford Institute of Technology and for as long as those annals will be written and for as long as those annals will be read your name will be remembered, and that will be forever.