2020 - 2029

Dr Margaret Murphy Honorary Doctorate Speech

5 Nov 2021

The usual words of thanks and appreciation seem inadequate to honour the depth of feeling which  Dr Byrne’s words have evoked for me.  However I am assisted by the Scottish poet Robert Burns in his lines:

Oh that God the gift would gie us to see ourselves as others see us.

So I do appreciate how you are gifting me today.

Since that wonderful letter of invitation was first issued by president Prof O’Shea, and which has now been brought to a realisation by President Professor John O’Halloran I have experienced a wide range of emotions – ranging from incredulity  and a sense of unworthiness right through to absolute delight and euphoria – so I do thank you from the bottom of my heart for the singular honour you confer not alone on me, but also on the global community of patient safety advocates and our loved ones whose patient journeys have informed the work we do.   We members of the WHO Patients for patient Safety network are ordinary men and women who are not career advocates but volunteers who are committed to being collaborative partners and co-producers of safe care.

Circumstances have brought us to this work. We have not chosen the work ourselves, rather it is a responsibility which has been thrust upon us, and one which we would gladly forfeit for the restoration of the lives and wellbeing of our loved ones who have been harmed by healthcare, albeit unintentionally. 

We strive to have these experiences become catalysts for change in an improved health service.  We accept that we cannot change the past, but are convinced that the past can certainly inform the present which we can then use to influence the future.  For our part, we make the pledge that In honour of those who have died,

those who have been left disabled, our loved  ones today,

we will strive for excellence, so that all people receiving healthcare are as safe as possible, as soon as possible.

.I am also very conscious that you my fellow graduates assembled here this morning are celebrating in the company of your fellow students, your friends and your oh so proud family members.  I urge you to savour the moment and to embrace the fact that you are very privileged people.  You have been blessed with high-grade intellect, have benefitted from superb  training here at UCC and most importantly, from this day forth , you will be gifted with the opportunity to serve vulnerable humankind on a daily basis.  Something which is truly awesome,  should be very humbling and have the potential to allow you live fulfilled and satisfying professional lives.  You will be remembered as the student cohort who proved your mettle during a global pandemic, having coped with the loneliness of remote learning and absence of college social interactions.  And then you capped it all by demonstrating a laudable degree of self discipline and commitment to the task in hand. 

As I stand here today, I am especially grateful to those who nominated me to receive this honour, and to those who supported that nomination.

A special word of thanks and appreciation is due to my small and encouraging family – our son, Brian, who is here today and our daughter Dorothy together with their spouses, Mary and Mary as well as our wonderful grandchildren who have rejuvenated both of us in our golden years.  Our grand-daughter Eabha represents that generation this morning – thank you Eabha.  .

A few special friends have also joined me here today, Br Bede Minehane and Mary Desmond Vasseghi both of whom I thank for all they have been to me over many years.

Then, of course, there is my husband Barry, who, so often, at no little cost to himself,  continues to give me wings to fly – thank you my love

I pray that each of you, my fellow graduates, will be safe hands for the thousands of patients you will meet throughout your careers  I hope that you, as the future of healthcare,  will make your own personal pledge today and resolve:

  • To acknowledge the reality that is the patient experience
  • To come to the rescue of deteriorating patients
  • To practice your branch of healthcare as advised by the British Medical Association - with head, with heart and hand (knowledge, compassion and skill)
  • To be courageous agents of change as you enjoy a privileged presence in the lives of your vulnerable patients and their concerned carers. For it is about saving the day as much as it is about seizing the day.

While making the status quo uncomfortable as you endeavour to make the future attractive

As I come to a close, I thank NUI and UCC from the bottom of my heart for so validating the advocacy role and for this singular outreach to me as an individual.  I have been both honoured and privileged to have had the opportunity to engage with your undergraduate students for many years now, a situation which I hope will continue because their responsiveness and generous feedback have often sustained me in remaining committed to my advocacy role.

My wish for all here today is that your personal lives will be wonderful, healthy and happy and that you will enjoy truly satisfying professional lives as you both save the day for those who come under your care and seize each and every day while striving to be the best healthcare professional you can be.

May the Lord bless us on this momentous occasion and in the years ahead.  Carpe Diem.  Carpe Diem

Thank you."


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