Father John Murphy

Murphy, John, D.D., a Catholic clergyman, acted as one of the leaders of the Wexford insurgents in 1798. He was born at Tincurry, in the County of Wexford, studied at Seville, took orders, and returned to Ireland in 1785, and became parish priest of Boulavogue.

In November 1797 he joined eighteen Catholic clergymen in endeavouring to avert the proclamation of their parishes by swearing allegiance to the Government.

He is said to have been driven into insurrection by the oppressive conduct of the soldiers and yeomanry, and by the wreck of his chapel; or as Mr. Froude says:

“After forty-five years of hitherto inoffensive life, he had become possessed with the ‘Irish idea.’”

On the 25th May he took the field at the head of a large body of pike-men, defeated a party of troops at Oulart, next day took Camolin and Enniscorthy, and encamped on Vinegar Hill.

According to Froude and Musgrave, he and his men now embarked upon a course of unprovoked plunder and murder; while Dr. Madden says their operations were in retaliation for immediate injuries, or were such as were necessary in the prosecution of the insurrection.

After the defeats at Arklow and Vinegar Hill, he joined the column that passed through Scollagh Gap, crossed the Barrow, and was defeated at Kilcomney.

Dr. Murphy found his way to Taghmon, where he was recognized and arrested. He was executed on 26th June 1798.

Several documents relating to his career will be found in the appendix to Musgrave’s Irish Rebellions.


141. Froude, James A.: The English in Ireland in the Eighteenth Century. 3 vols. London, 1872–’4.

249. Musgrave, Sir Richard: Memoirs of the Different Rebellions in Ireland. Dublin, 1801.

331. United Irishmen, their Lives and Times: Robert R. Madden, M.D. 4 vols. London, 1858–’60.