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genealogies of the families


O'MOROCHOE Murphy is much the commonest surname in Ireland: birth registration statistics indicate that of, a population of 4 millions, no less than approximately 55,000 are Murphys. The name, with which the prefix 'O' is never used nowadays, may be either O'Murchadha or Mac Murchadha in Irish (see MacMurrough, below). It arose independently in several parts of Ireland: there are, for example, indigenous septs so called in Counties Tyrone and Sligo, both these are unimportant in comparison with the great Murphy clan of Leinster. This was centred in Co. Wexford.

The Chief of the Name is O'Morchoe, an otherwise obsolete form in English. Birth statistics indicate that Murphy is the commonest name in Co. Wexford and it also has first place in Co. Carlow. The sumame, however, is even more numerous to-day in Munster than in Leinster, particularly in Counties Cork and Kerry. This Munster sept, which is associated particularly with the barony of Muskerry, Co. Cork, is said to be a branch of the Kinsella section of the Wexford clan. Their arms, however, are quite different from those of the Wexford Murphys. The Uster sept of Murphy mentioned above as belonging to Co. Tyrone is still numerous but is now more common in the adjacent county of Armagh, where in fact it is first in the statistical list. A chief named Flaherty O'Murphy is recorded in the Annals of Tir Boghainne, i.e. the modem barony of Banagh in Co. Donegal, so that it will be seen that the Murphys were and are widespread in Uster also.

As might be expected in the case of a name as numerous as Murphy the references to prominent persons of the name in the Annals are frequent throughout the centuries, both of the Leinster and the Ulster septs, for the most part to chiefs and soldiers; but there are others, e.g. Domhnall Dall Ua Murchadha "chief sage of Leinster" who died in 1127. Passing on to more modem times a few names may be selected to illustrate the extent to which the Murphys have contributed to the political and cultural history of the nation. Wexford produced the best known of these: the two Catholic priests who lost their lives in the 1798 Rising - Rev. John Murphy (1753-1798) and Rev. Michael Murphy (I767-1798).

Of the many Co. Cork Murphys who have distinguished themselves we may mention John Murphy (1700-1770), better known as Sein O'Murchadha na Raithineach, last chief of the Blarney bards; Canon Jeremiah Murphy (1848-1915) and Most Rev. John Murphy (1772-1847), Bishop of Cork, both of whom were remarkable not only for their scholarship but also for the extraordinary fme libraries, including Irish manuscripts, which they possessed. Marie Louise O'Murphy (1737-1814), beautiful daughter of an Irish soldier settled at Rouen, was an influential mistress of Louis XV. Her features are immortalized in many paintings by Boucher, whose model she was. John Murphy (1755-1836), was a famous sea captain; James Cavanagh Murphy (1760-1814), first a bricklayer, later an architect, was a leading authority on Spanish, Moorish and Portuguese architecture; and finally there was William Martin Murphy (1844-1921), business magnate and leader of the employers in the great Dublin strike of 1913. The Ulster Murphys have been less prominent: Arthur Murphy (1727-1805) was an actor and dramatist of some note; Rev. James Gracey Murphy (1808-1896) was a Hebrew scholar; and Patrick Murphy (1834-1862) was remarkable for his immense height, being eight feet one inch tall. Many Murphys of Irish emigrant families have also been outstanding in various phases of life in America and Australia. and many appear in the regimental lists of the Irish Brigade in the service of France.

Source: Irish Families by Edward MacLysaght MA, D Litt, MRIA - Irish Academic Press 1991>