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Durham First

Keeping it in the Family

The Murphy Family

In June 2008, Maria Murphy became the fifth sibling in the Murphy family to collect her degree from Durham University, making it the first time in the University's documented history that five siblings have all graduated from this institution.

For the fifth time in 13 years, parents Michael and Anne Murphy attended a Durham graduation ceremony for one of their children. Eldest sibling, James (35), was the first of the Murphy family to graduate from Durham University in 1995, unknowingly setting a precedent for his four younger sisters Anna (29), Lucy (27), Ruth (25) and now Maria (21).

Although the siblings have a close relationship with one another, all sharing the same Catholic faith, they did not choose to come to Durham solely because of their brother and sisters' choice. Before deciding on Durham, the Murphy girls each considered a number of other universities, visiting open days and looking at university prospectuses. Visits to see their older siblings allowed them to experience what real life in Durham was like, helping them to make an informed decision.

Anne Murphy, mother of the Murphy clan, said: "In the end they were attracted by Durham's collegiate system, academic excellence, traditions and sporting opportunities."

Maria, who graduated this summer in Ancient History, attended University College and was an avid netball player during her time at University. She said: "I chose to apply to Durham University because I knew it was a great place, and after visiting other places, I realised just how special Durham and University College in particular really were."

"At Durham there is so much on offer. The collegiate system creates a warm, friendly, familiar atmosphere and a unique sense of pride and belonging. I have greatly enjoyed and contributed to life both inside and outside college during my three years here, and I feel that being the fifth sibling to come to Durham serves to show what a wonderful and special place Durham truly is."

As well as choosing the same university, the siblings, who hail from Loughborough, continued to make similar choices whilst at university. During their time at Durham, all five were active within the University's Catholic community. All four sisters were members of Castle, three of them studied theology for their degree and three played for the netball club.

All four previous Murphy Durham graduates have gone onto successful careers. James is a chartered accountant with Deloitte and Touche; Anna is a clerk in the House of Lords; and Lucy and Ruth are both school teachers in Loughborough. Maria is now taking a year out to do volunteer work abroad before pursuing a career possibly in museum work or teaching.

With five grandchildren already, Anne hopes there may be more Murphy graduates before too long. "I would love to think of my grandchildren attending the University and being equally as happy," she says.

"There have been so many positive things about Durham University that my husband and I are both really sad that their time in Durham has come to an end. Durham has played a major part in all our lives. Our children have all matured into well-rounded, happy and fulfilled adults and we are immensely proud of each of them and grateful to Durham University for giving them opportunities that they have all enjoyed so much."

Did any of your parents, siblings, or children also attend Durham University? Tell us about your family's Durham link by emailing or by writing to:
Publications & Internal
Communications Officer,
Communications Office,
University Office, Old Elvet,
Durham DH1 3HP