The American Friends

....of Ulster University Inc.

Richard Kennedy Degenhardt Belleek Collectors’ Scholarships

Richard Kennedy Degenhardt
Richard K. DegenHardt
(1924 - 2000)

The Richard K. Degenhardt Belleek Collectors’ Scholarships were established in 2001 in memory of the late founder of the Belleek Collectors’ International Society, Richard Kennedy Degenhardt. The scholarships are a tribute to his definitive knowledge of Belleek Parian China, which remains renowned among collectors worldwide today.

These international scholarships, each of one year’s duration, are awarded annually to a small number of outstanding students of the Ulster University engaged in study in the fields of Ceramics and Celtic Studies at either undergraduate or graduate level. 

The scholarship Board is chaired by Dr Linda Beard from Atlanta GA. Under her guidance, scholarships have been awarded to almost 50 Ulster scholars.

The Scholarships give recipients financial assistance in order to undertake further specialised research in their areas of expertise, for example by attending courses abroad, visiting prestigious exhibitions or to fund travel and living costs for periods of research. Some of the resulting research has been published, or used as a foundation for Scholars to progress their studies to PhD level.

The scholarships are funded through the generosity of many individuals and groups, including Belleek collectors world-wide, international Belleek Chapters, special friends and family of Richard K. Degenhardt, the Belleek Pottery and the Belleek Collectors’ International Society. In June 2020, Ulster University will host a Ceramics Symposium to celebrate 20 years of Degenhardt Awards.

Richard K Degenhardt Belleek Collectors Scholarship Winners

The Richard K. Degenhardt Belleek Collectors’ Scholars 2016

Ms Eliza Bliss, Ceramics

Eliza’s work to date at the University has been primarily sculptural and experimental, utilising both throwing and hand building techniques. Eliza is also interested in sustainable building methods and their importance in helping to reduce our carbon footprint and creating naturally healthier homes built without chemicals for sufferers of allergies and those with breathing difficulties. Apart from being cheap to build, cob houses are fireproof, blend with the landscape and provide an atmosphere of wellbeing, surrounding the occupants with natural materials and space. Eliza aims to create the sense of a serene and spiritual hideaway, a place for contemplation.

Eliza is going to utilise the Scholarship funding to attend a cob-building course, an inexpensive and sustainable method of using clay, sand and straw to build environmentally friendly houses and other structures including sculptural pieces.

Mr David McComiskey, Ceramics

David is interested in creating functional and decorative pottery. He has spent his final year at University developing his own range of ceramics and has applied to the DCCOI's pottery skills course in Kilkenny to help him to achieve his goal of being able to become a commercial potter. David is influenced by Japanese pottery as well as contemporary European ceramics, in particular Eastern European and Irish ceramics. He makes functional ware that has the freedom to be used daily as well as to be displayed in a decorative manner.

David will use the Scholarship funding to support a visit to Latvia to enable him to study Latvia’s traditional ceramics and to explore exhibitions as part of the Contemporary Ceramics Biennale in July.

Mr Duane Long, Celtic Studies

Duane is interested in the Gaelic Fionn Tradition which is a vital component of Irish cultural history. Aspects of Ossianic tales have existed for almost two thousand years. The cycle exploded in popularity at the beginning of the previous millennium and has since spread all over the Gaelic world. The lays of this cycle constitute a large proportion of Ireland's epic poetry.

Duane’s Scholarship project is to compile, edit and translate a number of these lays which will make almost two thousand years of Irish history and cultural growth available to a modern audience. His project will draw attention to what may be the most unique and natively Gaelic component of the cycle. The Scholarship will be used to travel to Dublin to allow Duane to review the material and identify the lays. He will also utilise the Scholarship to enable him to visit various Gaeltacht areas in Donegal.

Caption (L to R): Mr David McComiskey, Dr Linda Beard, Ms Eliza Bliss and Mr Duane Long

Full List of Scholarship Winners

A total of 39 Ulster University students have benefitted from Richard K. Degenhardt Belleek Collector's Scholarships since they were established in 2001.

Roll of Honour
Year Ceramics Scholars Celtic Studies Scholars
2002 Tina Byrne Mary McCaul
2003 Jill Warrington Donal Mac Ruairí
2004 Fiona Fleming Julie Gallagher
2005 Rachel Buchanan Marion Deane
2006 Naomi Fitzpatrick
Derek Wilson
Sophia Geraghty
2007 Kerrie Ahern
Rebecca Simpson
Seán Ó Maolagáin
2008 Ashling O’Hea
Conor McLean
Colm Duffin
2009 Helen Moore Sarah McMonagle
2010 Claire Muckian Aodh Mac Gairbheá
2011 Andrew Cooke Conal McShane
Patrick Tierney
2012 Julie Scott
Rhiannon Ewing-James
Tony Mac Ruairí
2013 Kerrie Hanna
Christopher Banks
Póilín Uí Ghallachóir
2014 Ms Wendy Ward Ms Caitlin Ni Bhroin
Ms Patricia Carr
2015 Ms Rosemary Purvis
Ms Lisa Allan
Mr Michael Casey
2016 Mr David McComiskey
Ms Eliza Bliss
Mr Duane Long

The Ulster University is extremely grateful to all the donors who have contributed so generously to the Scholarship fund. These prestigious awards enhance students’ opportunities for educational and personal development, and encourage creative thinking and learning.

Limited Edition Commemorative Belleek Plate

Commemorative Belleek plate featuring the University’s Coat of Arms
Commemorative Belleekplate
featuring Ulster University's Coat of Arms

A limited edition commemorative Belleek plate featuring Ulster University's Coat of Arms is available from the University’s memorabilia collection at a cost of £26 ($47) from Ulster University Online Memorabilia Store.

This includes a donation of £5 ($9) to the Richard K Degenhardt Belleek Collectors’ Scholarship Endowment.

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