Rose Garden memorial bench for Old Man Belfield

Posted 20 May, 2021


Picture credit: Fergal Philips, Irish Independent

When Michael Byrne – Old Man Belfield – passed away overnight on the campus on 10 January 2021, there was a massive outpouring of spontaneous sincerity as thousands of graduates, staff and students sent in messages to the University saying what he meant to them and how they would miss him around Belfield.

As Belfield had been “home” to Michael for over thirty years, it seemed fitting that the University host his funeral.  Although COVID restrictions meant only ten mourners could attend, the service was watched online by over 11,000 people.

Now, in a fitting tribute to Michael, a new bench has been installed in the Rose Garden at Belfield House. 

The Rose Garden was dedicated as a memorial garden in 2015 after three students; Eimear Walsh, Lorcán Miller and Niccolai Schuster died when the balcony they were on collapsed, in Berkeley, California. 

The first bench in the memorial garden is dedicated to the students who lost their lives in that accident. The second is in memory of all students who have died while attending the University.  The third recounts a line from James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake: “They lived and laughed and loved and left”.

Michael’s bench is now the fourth in the rose circle. 

The Rose Garden at Belfield House is a beautiful space for tranquillity; an oasis in what is normally a very busy campus.  Although walled, the gate is open and there is wheelchair access.  Visitors are welcome to the garden and those who knew Michael may come and sit and think of this gentle, quiet man who was part of the UCD community for so many years.

Pictured above: Louise McDonagh, UCD BComm

By Eilis O'Brien, UCD University Relations.