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On Ailbhe Murphy


The IAF mourns the loss of friend and ally Ailbhe Murphy.

The Irish Architecture Foundation wishes to extend its most sincere condolences to family, friends and all of us who had the great luck in life to work with, alongside and in the company of the magnetic, compelling and beautiful Dr. Ailbhe Murphy.

Ailbhe was a friend and champion of many artists and artforms and practices, including architecture. It is fair to say she wielded significant influence on both of us for decades. Ailbhe had a quiet power. She was ferociously intelligent and lively minded, generously sharing her knowledge, her position, and her imagination.

Ailbhe freely offered you a seat at her table, with the expectation that you too would sometimes act as host. She seemed to understand your world view quickly, instinctively, and deeply, encouraging you to embrace that view, reflecting it back, so in the end having been with her, things seemed clearer and more focused than before. She transmitted her courage, supported your risk, carried it with you, reassuring that no matter what we tried, things would not only be fine, but they would also, always, be better.

Ailbhe took some real risks on architecture and for architects. She invited and enabled architects to participate in the Create training programme with their artist-peers for the first time ever; she alone included architecture in the GB18 events in Britain funded by Culture Ireland, taking for granted the social potential of architecture as an expanded practice. She worked passionately in Create and with the Arts Council to lead their Expanding Architecture programme, there at the crystallisation of a new culture and practice of architecture in Ireland that still has far reaching impacts today.

Ailbhe pursued the IAF vigorously and creatively and challenged us to question the nature of the built environment and the role of architects in making spaces for people to be themselves. The IAF collaborated with her many times on projects that built a deep culture of socially engaged architecture practice. Together we worked to expand art to ‘architecture’ through workshops and conferences about housing and the elderly.

Ailbhe was an ally. She was a deeply loved friend, partner and advocate of and for the IAF, and for both of us as people. While we are deeply saddened at her loss, we remain delighted to have worked in her shadow and feel privileged to have basked in her sunshine. Rest in power Ailbhe.

Emmett Scanlon & Nathalie Weadick
On behalf of all at the IAF, now and then.