Two pillars of Galway hurling, a mountaineer, and a fiddler up for NUIG honours

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Two of Galway’s hurling stalwarts, an incredible polar adventurer, and a fiddling champion are receiving honourary degrees at NUI Galway’s Winter Conferrings.

Phelim Murphy, Bernie O’Connor, Dr Clare O’Leary, and Martin Hayes will receive their honourary degrees alongside graduating 1,800 students at NUIG next week.

Phelim Murphy and Bernie O’Connor have been synonymous with Galway hurling at the club and county level for many years.

Known as the “godfather of Galway hurling”, Phelim Murphy was the chairman and manager of Turloughmore hurling club simultaneously when they won six years running from 1961 to 1966.

At the county level Murphy was the selector for the Galway team that won the All-Ireland U-21 title in 1972.

Over a long career Murphy served as Secretary of Galway Hurling Board from 1982 to 2004, and also held the positions of Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Connacht GAA Council.

Bernie O’Connor is a long standing member of Oranmore/Maree GAA club and has served hurling at the provincial and national levels on the Hurling Development, Games Administration and Management committees.

A former Galway hurler himself, O’Connor was manager of the Galway Senior team in 1983 and team selector of All-Ireland winning teams in 1980, 1987 and 1988.

Dr. Clare O’Leary is a gastroenterologist and GP who, when she’s not working with the digestive system, likes to scale mountains and cross frozen continents.

In 2004 she became the first Irish woman to scale Mount Everest and is also the first Irish woman to make the Seven Summits, the highest mountain on every continent.

If that wasn’t enough, in 2008 she joined the Beyond Endurance expedeition, becoming the first Irish woman to reach the South Pole.

When she’s not exploring the farthest reaches of the globe Dr O’Leary serves as a patron of Cork University Hospital Charity.

And the last of the honourary degrees is for renowned Irish fiddler Martin Hayes, known for his soulful approach to trad music recognised the world over.

Whether he’s playing with the Irish-American supergroup The Gloaming, or the newly formed Martin Hayes Quartet, there’s no questioning his influence.

He still plays regularly with the Tulla Céilí Band of which his father was a founding member in 1946.

One of only three people in history to be named the All-Ireland Fiddle Champion in the senior division two years running, Hayes has racked up many awards in Ireland and internationally.

NUI Galway President, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said of these exceptional people: “NUI Galway is fortunate to be associated with many outstanding honorary graduates throughout its history and those being honoured at these conferring ceremonies form a particularly distinguished group.”

“Each one has made an outstanding and distinctive contribution in their field. In honouring these exceptional individuals, we signal what we value in areas that matter to us and to our society.”

“Their achievements speak to some of the activities in which we as a University are engaged – community development, culture and performance, and sporting endeavour.”