Paul O’Connell, Thady Feerick-Ryan, Noel and Maureen Feerick-Ryan, Seán Feerick, Professor Ciarán Ó Catháin
The Caoimhe Feerick-Ryan Memorial Prize has been launched at Athlone Institute of Technology. The perpetual award is in memory of the former design student from Belmont, Co Offaly, who died in a car accident in July 2008. It will be presented each year to the student who achieves the highest mark in design in their final primary degree exam.
The prize has two components: a piece of sculpture of the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite, which will be held in AIT and a financial award of €500 which will go to the successful student. It will be awarded for the first time in October of this year and thereafter on an annual basis. Seán Feerick, sponsor of the memorial prize and Caoimhe’s uncle, said that the idea for the prize was “to commemorate and celebrate Caoimhe, her creativity, her unique individuality, and her extra specialness as a person”. It was also something, he said, which would “look to the future and reflect in some way what it means to be moving into one’s twenties – the openness, creativity, idealism, the sense of everything being possible, those snatches of genius and immortality, which are so present in the lives of all of those who stand on the threshold of their twenties.”
The piece of sculpture which embodies the award was executed by the Greek artist Yannis Souvatzoglou, and uses the traditional idiom of bronze along with the more modern material of plexi-glass. According to Mr Feerick, “the concept blends the traditional with the contemporary, to create what is a timeless piece reflecting openness, a warmth, and strength of personality, which were important traits of Caoimhe’s character. The head facing left in the eyes of the viewer, reminding us of where the heart is situated in the human torso, provides a visible reminder of the warmth that the piece seeks to convey.”
Welcoming Caoimhe’s family, particularly her parents Noel and Maureen, and her brother Thady, to the event, AIT President, Prof. Ciarán Ó Catháin, said that “remembering Caoimhe in this way allows us to record her unique contribution to the institute. The trophy and the bursary are a fitting way to both remember her and to annually recognise the skills and qualities which she so clearly embodied.” The President also thanked Seán Feerick and Paul O’Connell, saying that the institute was indebted to them for “their exceptional generosity” in sponsoring the memorial prize.