Town mourns after Calderdale community figure dies aged 68

Tributes have poured in for a popular Calderdale community figure who sadly died recently.

Wednesday, 26th August 2020, 3:43 pm
Updated Wednesday, 26th August 2020, 3:54 pm
Irene Murphy, 68

Irene Murphy, 68, a well known community figure in Sowerby Bridge, died last week on August 20.

According to her daughter Kate Haigh, 40, former teacher Ms Murphy was heavily involved within the area's art scene after co-founding Sowerby Bridge Art Circle.

She taught across many Calderdale primary schools over a 25-year period including Christ Church Pellon, Burnley Road Academy, Triangle Primary, Warley Road Primary, and Luddendenfoot Academy.

Ms Haigh said: "She died suddenly last week and we don’t know why yet. It was very sudden.

"The town of Sowerby Bridge is in mourning as she was a very well known member of the community.

"There are many people who are going to find life harder without her there.

"During her spare time, she would help organise art charity events.

"One successful art exhibition charity event at Dean Clough, raising breat pump equipment for Leeds ICU in 2014."

Ms Murphy leaves behind her three children Kate, Paul and Mark, as well as three grandchildren.

Spokesman for Sowerby Bridge Art Circle, Alan Wrigley said: "She was a tireless worker for things she felt would benefit the community.

"A dozen local artists, including Irene and myself, exhibited together and decided that we would like to continue collaborating, so we formed ourselves into a group called ArtCircle.

Others soon asked to join us and since 2015 we have accumulated 300 members and held regular exhibitions at the Blind Pig in Sowerby Bridge, the Courtyard Café at Halifax Playhouse.

Irene has been ArtCircle's Secretary since its inception. She's always been diligent about organising committee meetings, scrupulously taking minutes, delivering leaflets, seeking sponsors, liaising with local groups - all the things that committees sometimes struggle to get done efficiently through lack of time or apathy.

"She has organised several arts-based charity events for local causes, putting in an enormous amount of work to find sponsors, collect artworks, while arranging public launches.

"Irene's own art was imaginative and individual. She studied art in Liverpool in the 1960s and the influence of the psychedelia years can be seen in much of her work. We are planning to put on a retrospective of her work at Dean Clough at some point in the near future.

"She was a loyal friend. She would always go out of her way to help the community as well as friends and family. She adored her children and grandchildren. She would welcome people to her home without a second thought, and often held little parties for groups of her friends. She will be sorely missed by many."

Ms Murphy had many works displayed throughout Calderdale including a mural on the wall at Sowerby Bridge's Blind Pig pub.

The venue's owner Julie Hall said: "She was devoted to her family, and the community.

"Her love of art shone through.

"I don’t think half of the activities she was involved in, would have happened without her true grit and determination.

"She rarely drank, just a lime and soda, but was an integral part of 'the Pig family'.

"I valued her advice and opinions. A very caring person. A few years ago, Irene became involved in a flash idea for a mural within the bar. She quickly made it her own, drawing most of it free hand.

"Anyone who knows her, can see the intricate details, and connections to Sowerby Bridge hidden within [the mural].

"That mural is well loved, and an intrinsic part of our identity."

Ms Murphy's funeral will take place on September 10 in Elland, but there will be a limit on numbers attending due to coronavirus restrictions.

Ms Haigh has asked anyone attending not to wear black