John Crumlish and John Muldoon awarded GMIT Honorary Fellowships

Wednesday, November 23, 2016 Press Office
Press Release

Honorary Fellowships recognise their vast contribution to Arts and Sport

Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) has awarded Honorary Fellowships to two outstanding individuals; John Crumlish, CEO of the Galway International Arts Festival, for his vast contribution to arts and culture in the west, and John Muldoon, Connaught Rugby Captain and a graduate of GMIT, for his major contribution to rugby and sport.

They were presented with their Honorary Fellowship Awards by GMIT President, Dr Fergal Barry, at Thursday’s (17 Nov) Conferring ceremony in the Radisson Hotel, Galway, which was attended by their family members from Donegal and Galway.

GMIT President, Dr Fergal Barry, says: ““The award of an Honorary Fellowship is the most prestigious award that the Institute can bestow. John Crumlish and John Muldoon are truly deserving of this recognition and are wonderful role models for our students and graduates”.

Paying tribute to John Muldoon at the ceremony, Gerry O’Neil, Head of Dept, GMIT, said: “When John Muldoon signed a new contract with Connacht Rugby in January 2016 for the 2016/17 season, his 14th season, not many people would have predicted that the 2015/16 season would end with Connacht being the Guinness PRO12 champions. Established in 1885, one year after the GAA, the winning of the Guinness PRO12 was the first major trophy for Connacht.”

“To say that John was central to that achievement is not giving him full credit. His inspirational leadership, dedication and loyalty to Connacht Rugby is unmatched and the support and encouragement he gives to all the players is exceptional.
To quote Pat Lam on the signing of the contract: “Not only is John one of the most consistent players in terms of his performances, he is a hugely respected individual as our captain. With the amount of youth we have coming through, you cannot underestimate the importance of his experience and his character when it comes to helping others understand who and what Connacht stands for. He epitomises the ‘Connacht man’ and is a great example to our younger players about what you can achieve with hard work.”

“Born in Portumna in 1982, John only started playing rugby as a way of staying fit during the winter when he was 14. Before that it was all about hurling and as he says himself, dreaming of being Joe Cooney. Little did he realise that many young rugby players would be dreaming of being John Muldoon so many years later.”

“John was a member of the Galway panel that defeated Cork in the 2000 All-Ireland minor hurling decider at Croke Park. He captained Portumna Community School in the Connacht Junior Cup and won an All-Ireland Under 18 Cup with Nenagh. John was playing for the Irish under 19 side when he joined Galwegians. In the troubled year of 2003, when Connacht’s position was being reviewed by the IRFU, John was given his first full time contract.”

“John enrolled in GMIT in September 2001 and first graduated in 2003 with a Higher Certificate and again in 2004 with a National Diploma in Industrial Engineering.  He attempted to join the GMIT rugby club which was at a low ebb at the time and only five players turned up for the first rugby session. Three left to go for a pint but John and one other stayed on to do fitness work and were immediately approached by Galwegians. This was a sign of the commitment and discipline that John has shown throughout his career.”

“John was a model student during his time in GMIT. His attitude in class, labs and with classmates was exemplary. Even as a student he had clear life goals and was committed to them. Engineering demands a learning process that develops the qualities and values associated with leadership. The young engineering student starts as a sole learner and graduates as a team player and leader. We can see these qualities, perseverance, tenacity, respect, mentoring and self-awareness manifested in John’s personality and performance on the field.”

John has represented Ireland internationally at various levels. He played with the Irish under 19 team, he was also selected for the Irish under 21 side. He made his debut for the Ireland “A” side on June 3rd 2006 when he started against the USA in the Churchill Cup. He was named in the Irish Senior squad for the 2009 tour to North America and made his debut against Canada on May 29th 2009 playing 71 minutes in a 25 to 6 victory. In 2010 John was in the squad for the summer internationals and started against the Barbarians in Thomond Park on June 4th. He started against New Zealand but was forced off by injury and missed the remainder of the tour.”

“In the 2013- 2014 John started the season as joint captain with Michael Swift and reached the landmark of 200 games with the province that season. John was made captain again in August 2014, started all 22 games in the league and featured in 5 of the 7 European games with Connacht finishing in 7th place in the league, their highest finish to date.”

“On September 11th 2015, John made his 250th appearance for Connacht. The rest is history as on May 28th 2016 Connacht, captained by John, won their first ever major trophy in becoming the Guinness PRO12 Champions.  The contribution that John has made to the journey to this victory over so many seasons cannot be overemphasised. Pat Lam has likened John to a Paul O’Connell and has described him as “a great example of an old dog that is willing to learn new tricks.” Under Pat Lam the Connacht game has become much more expansive and John has thrived in this environment. The crowning glory of this impressive career, so far, and I emphasise so far, was the lifting of the PRO12 trophy in Murrayfield with a sea of green from Connacht looking on. It was great to see the ardent GAA and soccer supporters who were now also died in the wool Connacht supporters there wearing the Green of Connacht.”

“John is being awarded this Honorary Fellowship in recognition of his exceptional leadership skills, his dedication to Connacht Rugby since first playing with the province, his inspiration to not only his fellow team mates but to Rugby players of all ages in Connacht and the unassuming and humble manner in which he acts as a role model for players and children across the province. He is the epitome of the Connacht “Grassroots to Green Jersey” mission.”

Paying tribute to John Crumlish at the ceremony, Cáit Noone, Head of the GMIT College of Tourism & Arts, said “John Crumlish was born in Donegal and spent those early years in the wonderful town of Carndonagh, a place he still calls home.  He is one of 3 children and as he grew up he watched his parents manage the family business while creating a home for him and his siblings. At an early age he has been surrounded by the arts and music, and words have long been a part of his life. It really is no surprise that he is at the forefront of the arts and culture sector in the west of Ireland. “

“John came to Galway in the 1980s to study psychology at University College Galway – or now known as NUIG. From these early formative years he was and remains a talented musician, playing guitar and piano and he writes music. I also hear he is a wonderful singer.”

“Soon after he graduated he moved to Derry to teach but the lure of the west of Ireland was calling and he returned to Galway in 1988 and was immediately immersed into the arts sector in Galway. He joined the now infamous Galway band ‘The Sleepwalkers’ and also joined the Galway Arts Festival as a volunteer.”

“He became production manager with the festival and subsequently went on to work with Macnas, and after some time formed a company within Macnas called Mac Teo, where the team undertook corporate work throughout Ireland promoting the arts. John returned to the Galway Arts Festival as CEO in 2003.”

“The festival began in 1978 and has now grown into an event with a truly phenomenal reputation where, in 2016, there were 200,000 attendances at 200 performances, talks and exhibitions in 26 venues over 14 days. Galway International Arts Festival is the Festival of extraordinary experiences and wonder, a collective of performance, music, visual art, theatre and spectacle. Whether turning a small Irish city on its head for two weeks, taking work on an international tour, or being a forceful year-round presence, every experience of the Galway International Arts Festival is an unforgettable encounter.”

“GIAF is now a cultural necessity on so many calendars. Like all great events and programmes every spectacle needs a leader, a team to make this happen and John Crumlish is that person. He works closely with a fabulously talented team of directors, artists and visionaries but ultimately there is only one CEO and that is he.”

“Outside of this demanding and busy role he served as a member of the Arts Council from 2006 until 2011, a member of the Fáilte Ireland West Forum (2010-2013) and a member of the Board of highly successful national event ‘The Gathering’ (2012-2013). More recently he was and remains the Chair of the Galway 2020 Steering Group and was a phenomenal leader in managing the Galway bid, in partnership with others, to bring that designation home to Galway.”

“He has been an ardent supporter of the GMIT Centre for the Creative Arts and Media and earlier this year kindly opened the annual Student Exhibition and shared many words of wisdom with students and friends. He and his colleagues have engaged with GMIT to look at other ways students and graduates can take part in the festival to order to enhance further learning and create new cultural experiences.”

“John Crumlish is an inspirational figure for so many students at GMIT and beyond. He has an incredibly ability to reach out to people, irrespective of who you are. He is incredibly humble, kind, generous with his time and encouraging with his wisdom.  He is a progressive and convincing ambassador for the arts and culture in Galway and his understated footprint in the arts can be found all over this region.”