Fr John Murphy

Fr. John Murphy hero and tragic figure of the 1798 Rebellion is revered in song and story and is central to any discussion of that important period in Irish history. He was born in the year 1753 in a place called Tincurry in the parish of Ferns near Enniscorthy in County Wexford He was the youngest child in a family of six born to Thomas Murphy a farmer and his wife Johanna. The Murphy children were educated at a local hedge school.

At this time the Penal Laws were in force in Ireland and there were severe restrictions on the outward practice of the Catholic Faith. Students for the Priesthood were first ordained and then later sent abroad for their religious studies. James Murphy older brother of John also studied for the priesthood abroad and was based in Seville. However he ended his studies and returned home because of ill health. John however proceeded with his intention to be a priest. He was ordained in Wexford in secret along with other local candidates by the Bishop of Ferns Bishop Sweetman.

The Young Father Murphy then travelled to Seville in Spain and began his theological and other religious studies there in July 1780. He continued with his studies for five years and finally in the year 1785 he returned home to Wexford. He took up his new duties at Kilcormuck (or Boolavogue) near Monageer and acted as curate to the local Parish Priest Fr. Patrick Cogley. His relatively ordered life as a rural curate was soon to change dramatically with the course of events in Ireland. The establishment of the United Irishmen and their struggle under the suppression of the magistrates and military and the 1798 Rebellion ended in tragedy for Fr. Murphy and many of the heroes of '98.

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