Saint Patrick’s College creates special award to honour Emma Mhic Mhathúna

Award named for CervicalCheck controversy campaigner will benefit mature students

Emma Mhic Mhathúna, one of the women affected by the CervicalCheck controversy, who died last month aged 37 Photograph: Domnick Walsh

Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth is to introduce an award dedicated to the late Emma Mhic Mhathúna which will assist mature students who wish to return to education there.

One of the women affected by the CervicalCheck controversy and a mother of five children, Ms Mhic Mathúna died last month at the age of 37.

Deeply committed to her faith, she returned to education as an adult and studied theology and Irish at the college.

The Catholic Primate Archbishop Eamon Martin, who is also Chancellor of Saint Patrick's College, said he was "pleased to hear, from the President [Fr Michael Mullaney] of the college's intention to have an award dedicated to Emma to assist mature students who wish to return to education – ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam."


Speaking at a graduation ceremony in the university, the Archbishop said Ms Mhic Mhathúna was “a woman of deep faith who was proud to study in the Bachelor of Arts and theology programme here in 2014-15.”

Addressing 232 lay women and men who were conferred with academic awards in Theology, Philosophy and Education, he said “like many of you here today, Emma balanced the challenging demands of raising her family with her academic programme, but, sadly, as we know, for personal reasons she reluctantly had to withdraw from her studies.”

Ms Mhic Mhathúna’s “courageous and powerful testimony about her terminal cancer during the recent CervicalCheck controversy made such a deep impression right across the country,” he said.

The Archbishop also said he considered it "a huge honour to be Chancellor of this Pontifical University. "

He added that "with around 800 lay people, religious and seminarians studying theology at undergraduate and postgraduate level alongside those taking part time diploma programmes, we remain committed to our 'desire to flourish' as a centre of excellence for theological studies in Ireland and as a major driver for the renewal of faith in this country."

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times