UCD Foundation announced the formation of a UCD Michael Byrne Community Fund and installation of a memorial bench in the Rose Garden at Belfield House to remember Michael Byrne, Old Man Belfield.
Known affectionately as ‘Old Man Belfield’ to staff and students, Michael Byrne was a homeless man who chose to live on UCD’s Belfield Campus. Byrne died on campus on Monday 11th of January.
The statement from UCD explained that they hope the “fund will grow over time to become a lasting legacy of ‘Old Man Belfield'” to “keep his memory alive to inspire and impact current and future generations. “
“In recent weeks, the UCD community has come together to remember Michael fondly with students past and present sharing their memories of how Michael impacted their time in UCD,” the college said.
UCD will memorialise Byne by 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.”
The university will establish the Michael Byrne Community Fund which will look to encourage and reward community-building activities at UCD. The fund will award an Annual Student Award to recognise such activities along with awarding Cothrom Na Féinne Scholarships to disadvantaged students under the name of the fund. UCD is calling for contributions to the fund online here.
At the funeral service hosted by UCD Chaplain Eamonn Bourke, a member of the McCarthy family, who watched out for Michael over the past thirty years, explained that Michael was born in January 1949 and may have possibly passed on his own birthday.
Reflecting on ‘the Dreamer’, a name that the family fondly gave to Byrne, McCarthy said that “Michael led a long and simple life…always with good and honest intentions” and added that Byrne spent the majority of his life at UCD.
Local shopkeepers, including those at UCD, gave him food and other items. Many times Michael had chosen to turn away aid, though did benefit from the kindness of UCD’s security who kept a watchful eye over Michael.
Hugh Dooley – News Editor