“A fiercely private person, we thank those of you who quietly looked out for Michael. We will miss him around the campus.”
Michael Byrne, affectionately known as “Old Man Belfield” by staff and students was a constant presence on UCD campus for over 30 years. When the University shared the sad news of his passing in 2021, thousands of messages poured in from students, alumni, staff, past and present, and the local community – each one sharing their deep affection for this kind and gentle soul who came to affect the lives of so many of us.
In choosing to make UCD’s Belfield campus his home, Michael touched people in ways he may not have known. His was a face in UCD that so many knew to see and he was someone around whom the UCD community gathered. Many members of our community supported Michael with basic needs including food and, during the worst of weather, shelter. The University was proud to host Michael’s funeral service and to share our grief and affection for him.
Through his gentle presence and quiet acceptance of support, Michael helped to build a community that understands the importance of caring for those in need. The UCD community has come together to remember Michael fondly by supporting the Michael Byrne Community Fund, which was established to honour Michael’s memory and the impact he had on the UCD Community.
1: installing a memorial bench in the Rose Garden at Belfield House so that those who come to sit and take their rest can fondly remember Michael.
2: establishing the Michael Byrne Community Fund to foster and recognise community building activities at UCD. This fund supports:
- The establishment of accommodation bursaries for students who may not be able to afford accommodation otherwise.
- UCD in the Community initiatives that support support staff, students and alumni to build impactful community activities.
- An annual student award that recognises achievement in community-building activity.
- Cothrom na Féinne scholarships to support students from underrepresented groups including those with socio-economic disadvantage and protected status.
As part of the UCD Festival 2023, the inaugural Michael Byrne Mile will take place on June 10th, and will allow the UCD Community to come together to remember Michael in his home of UCD. The event will support the Michael Byrne Community Fund, which was established in honour of Michael to foster community building activities in UCD and support students in financial disadvantage who may not be able to afford accommodation.
The event is open to all and we would like to invite the UCD Community to come to celebrate and remember the deep impact Michael had on us all.
There will be a number of rolling runs/walks from 11.30am – 1.30pm at the new UCD running track. To book your place, please click the link below.
We are are asking our present and past UCD Community to come together in support of it. To add your support, simply click below to make a once-off or a monthly gift. Gifts from Irish taxpayers of €250 or more per annum qualify for tax relief and are worth up to 45% m ore to the fund, making your support go even further.
The communal outpouring of support for the Michael Byrne Community Fund highlights the deep affection held for Michael by those who remember him. This fund continues to grow over time and has helped establish a lasting legacy of “Old Man Belfield”, keeping his memory alive to inspire and impact current and future generations. Michael Byrne will be deeply missed around campus.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.
Banner image: Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin