President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins presided at a small private ceremony this morning, Monday 4th September 2017, to mark the election of playwright Tom Murphy as Saoi in Aosdána. The honour of Saoi is bestowed for singular and sustained distinction in the arts and, this morning, the President presented Tom with the symbol of the office, a gold Torc. The ceremony took place at 11.30am.
Aosdána was originally established in 1981 by the Arts Council to acknowledge artists who have made an outstanding contribution to the arts in Ireland. Membership of Aosdána, which is by peer nomination and election, is open to artists engaged in architecture, choreography, music, literature and the visual arts and, currently, the body has 248 members. Members must be (or have been) resident in Ireland for five years, and must have produced a body of work that is original and creative.
Members of Aosdána nominate and elect the Saoithe and no more than seven artists may hold this honour at any one time. The present Saoithe are Seoirse Bodley (music), George Morrison (film), Edna O’Brien (literature), Camille Souter (visual arts), Imogen Stuart (visual arts).
A small gathering of the artist’s family and close friends, including his wife Jane Brennan, Garry Hynes, Marie Mullen and Sean McGinley were present. Also present were Arts Council Director, Orlaith McBride and Arts Council Member, Joan Sheehy.
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