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Born: 16 January 1833, Scarteen, County Cork
Entered: 26 October 1848, Dôle France - Lugdunensis Province (LUGD)
Final vows: 02 February 1869
Died: 18 May 1896, University College, Dublin
by 1849 in Vals, France (LUGD) studying
by 1859 at Bonn, Germany (GER) studying Philosophy
by 1860 at Paderborn, Germany (GER) studying Theology
by 1861 at St Beuno’s, Wales (ANG) studying Theology 3
by 1867 at Manresa, Spain (ARA) making Tertianship
◆ HIB Menologies SJ :
When he was five years old the family moved to Kanturk, where he had his early education before going to Clongowes.
1852-1858 After First Vows and some studies he was sent for Regency to Clongowes as a Teacher of all years.
1859 He studied his Second Year of Philosophy at Bonn.
1860-1863 He began his Theology at Paderborn, but after one year was transferred to St Beuno’s.
Returning to Ireland he taught Humanities and Rhetoric as well as Logic at Clongowes.
1867 he made Tertianship at Manresa, Spain
1868 He was sent to Tullabeg teaching Rhetoric.
1869-1874 He was sent to teach at Crescent Limerick.
1874-1882 he was attached to the Missionary Staff, and was Superior of that Staff for seven years.
1883-1888 He taught at UCD
1888 he was sent to Milltown to teach Canon Law.
1892-1896 He was back at UCD, mainly as a Writer. He died unexpectedly during the night of 17 May 1896 in his 64th year and 48th in Religious Life.
Ten years before he died he had been appointed by the Bishops of Ireland as promoter of the Causes of those who had died for their faith during the Penal Times. His last work as entitled “Our Martyrs” which was not published until after his death, though he had seen the last sheet through the press!
His other works include : “The Life of Red Hugh O’Donnell”; The History of Holy Cross Abbey”; “School History of Ireland”
◆ Royal Irish Academy : Dictionary of Irish Biography, Cambridge University Press online :
by David Murphy
Murphy, Denis (1833–96), priest and historian, was born 12 January 1833 at Scarteen, near Newmarket, Co. Cork, the eldest son of Timothy Murphy and his wife Joanna (née O'Connell). He was educated at Mr Curran's school in Kanturk before attending Clongowes Wood College, Co. Kildare. Entering the Society of Jesus on 26 October 1848, he made his noviceship at Dôle and then returned to Clongowes and taught history and literature (1852–8). He undertook further philosophical and theological studies in Bonn, Paderborn, and St. Beuno's in Wales and, returning to Ireland in 1863, taught rhetoric and logic at Clongowes (1863–7). In 1867 he made his tertianship at Manresa in Spain and later taught at St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, and the College of the Sacred Heart, Limerick. In 1874 he was attached to the society's missionary staff. He established a reputation as an excellent conductor of religious retreats and was appointed superior of the missionary staff in 1873. He began teaching French language and literature in 1883 at University College, St Stephen's Green, Dublin, and, in 1888, was appointed to teach moral theology, and later canon law, at Milltown Park. In 1892 he returned to his teaching duties at University College and also served as an examiner in Spanish for the RUI.
Best known for his historical researches and writings, Murphy was a prominent member of several learned societies including the Kildare Archaeological Society, the RSAI, and the RIA (1884), and contributed to their journals. His articles in the Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland include ‘Mungret Abbey’ (1894), ‘The castle of Roscommon’ (1891), ‘The ornamentation of the Lough Erne shrine’ (1892), and ‘The Irish Franciscans at Louvain’ (1893). His best known historical work is Cromwell in Ireland (1883), a scholarly and balanced account of the military campaign of 1649–51 written to refute the many myths associated with Oliver Cromwell (qv); new editions were published in 1885 and 1897. Murphy gave credit to Cromwell for his courage and military effectiveness, but condemned his religious bigotry and cruelty, and agreed with the 1st earl of Clarendon's saying ‘that he was a great, bad man’ (Cromwell in Ireland, p. ix). In 1893 Murphy translated into English and published Lughaidh Ó Cléirigh's (qv) manuscript life of Red Hugh O'Donnell (qv) with an extensive historical introduction and parallel bilingual text (The life of Hugh Roe O'Donnell (1893)). The translation, however, was severely criticised by some Irish scholars for its lack of precision. His widely used School history of Ireland (1894) gave a concise bird's eye view of Irish history from the arrival in Ireland in the 3rd century BC of Ceasair, granddaughter of Noah, ‘forty days before the deluge’, up to his own day.
At the request of the Irish bishops, in 1886 Murphy began researching a history of the martyrdom of Irish catholics since the reign of Henry VIII. He carried out extensive researches in the Vatican and other continental archives for over a decade, the result of which was the posthumously published Our martyrs: a record of those who suffered for the catholic faith under the penal laws in Ireland (1896) which he completed only days before his death. His edition of The annals of Clonmacnoise (1896), based on the translation of Conall Mageoghegan (qv), was also published posthumously.
He was elected to the RIA's committee of polite literature and antiquities (1891) and became vice-president of the RSAI (1894) and editor of the Journal of the Kildare Archaeological Society. He received an honorary doctorate from the RUI in recognition of his historical research. A kindly and cheerful man, he enjoyed playing the bass violin to relax from his scholarly pursuits. He died suddenly 18 May 1896 in his rooms at University College, and was buried in the Jesuit plot in Glasnevin cemetery. There is a substantial collection of his papers in the Jesuit archives in Dublin which includes research notes for Our martyrs and lists of Irish manuscripts in archives in Rome and Spain.
Times, 25 May 1896; Irish Catholic, 23 May 1896; RSAI Jn. (1896); Journal of the Kildare Archaeological Society, ii (1896), 81–3; Irish Monthly, xxiv (1896), 328–31; DNB; Boase, supp. iii; Cork Hist. Soc. Jn., xv (1909), 90–92; Beathaisnéis 1882–1982, i, 90; papers of Denis Murphy, Jesuit Archives, Dublin
◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973
Father Denis Murphy 1833-1896
Fr Denis Murphy was born at Scarteen County Cork on the 16th January 1833. Having received his education at Clongowes, he entered the Society in 1848, making his novitiate in Dôle, France.
After his ordination and tertianship he taught in our Colleges, Clongowes, Crescent and Tullabeg. From 1874-1882 he was attached to the Mission Staff. From 1883-1896 he taught at University College, St Stephen’s Green, wit a break in between as Professor ar Milltown Park.
He had been appointed by the Bishops of Ireland as Promoter of the Causes of the Irish Martyrs. This led to his book “Our Irish Martyrs”. His other published works are “The Life of Red Hugh O’Donnell”, “The History of Holy Cross Abbey”, “Cromwell in Ireland” and “The Annals of Clonmacnoise”.
He died rather suddenly on May 17th 1896, being 64 years of age and 48 years a Jesuit.
◆ The Clongownian, 1896
Father Denis Murphy SJ
Clongowes was still lamenting the loss of one of her most distinguished sons, Dr William J Fitzpatrick, when another, of those who have won fame for their Alma Mater in the world of letters was called away to his account. Born at Newmarket, County Cork, in 1833; Denis. Murphy went first to school at Kanturk; and then came to Clongowes, so young and so clever, that he is said to have finished the class of rhetoric at the earliest age recorded except in the case of Chief Baron Palles. Before his sixteenth birthday he had entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus, and after spending some years in England and on the Continent returned to Clongowes as professor of classics.
As a writer and a lecturer; Father Murphy soon made a name for himself; as an antiquary he stood in the foremost rank in this country, and in recognition of his great services to Irish literature and history, the Royal University conferred upon him the honorary degree of LLD.
Many noble tributes were paid to his memory by the Press, and we cannot do better than give our readers the notice which the “Independent” gave of his life and labours :-
The announcement of the death of the distinguished Jesuit, Father Denis Murphy, will come with tragic suddenness on his numerous friends in Ireland. Father Murphy had not been strong for some time past, but there was no premonition of the approach of his death. Last week he might have been met working among, as was his wont, the manuscript materials in the Royal Irish Academy. On Sunday, as usual, he performed his sacerdotal duties, and in the evening, apparently in the best of health, beguiled the time revising the final proofs of his “History of the Irish Martyrs”, which was promised from the printing press next month. On Monday morning he was found dead in his bed, evidently having passed quietly away in his sleep a few hours previously. By the death of the Rev Denis Murphy, Ireland is deprived of the services of an untiring, faithful-hearted son, who loved her with love “far brought from out the storied past”, used in the present and transfused for future times; and the Jesuits lose a useful member, whose work has added lustre to the Irish Province, for his name will be placed on the bead-roll with that of the Blessed Edmund Campion SJ, and those of the Bollandist Fathers.
Father Murphy was born in 1833; and shortly after the Famine Year joined the Society. He was educated: in England, Spain, and Germany, as well as at the Irish houses belonging to his Order. The little town of Newmarket, County Cork, where he was born, is famous as the birthplace of John Philpot Curran, and is hallowed by the memory that there too Thomas Davis spent much of his boyhood's years. It lies in the heart of one of the most historically interesting and romantic districts in that county which Sir Walter Scott estimated contained more romance than all Scotland. Not very far from Father Murphy's early home the brave MacAlistrum had fallen in fight against Murragh-au Theathaun, as the peasants still call the Cromwellian commander, and Phelix O’Sullivan, the vindicator of the Irish Catholics, had broken battle with the English in the Raven's Gleng, and crossed the Blackwater by dint of his long spears; in his historic march into Connaught. Such and similar surroundings possibly first formed the historic faculty which, in later years, developed and trained as it became, distinguished Father Murphy's career. Besides, lectures on side-lights of history, feuilletons and fugitive, magazine articles innumerable, he published several volumes of rare value as contributions to the history of Ireland, although dealing with periods and individual persons. His life of Hugh. O'Donnell deserves a place in every Irish home. It is a bilingual text, and side by side wish the Gaelic original of the pious Scribe O'Clery, we have an English translation copiously imitated. By this scholarly book probably Father Denis Murphy will “be best known to the future students of our country's history. The story of Red Hugh, the bright brand foretold of Fanult, is. a revelation of purity of motive and single-hearted. I purpose which teaches mighty lessons to all Irishmen, and its publication as such. apart from its historic value, was a most important event. Nothing in drama or epic of any age or country can exceed the pathos and tragedy contained in this simple record of facts which Father. Murphy was the first to render into the English tongue. Sir William Wilde used to lament that Cromwell's campaignings in Ireland were the most defective portion of modern Irish history. To remedy this Father Murphy set himself to work, and did so effectually in his book “Cromwell in Ireland”, which gives in detail an account of that memorable campaign which began in August, 1648, and ended in May, 1649. He follows Cromwell step by step in his progress through the country, and traces his march with a blood-red line upon the map. He is even at pains to rescue Cromwell's memory from some things set down in malice, but he musters facts enough to show him the great bad man Clarendon maintained he was. Among his other substantial works are his “History of Holy Cross Abbey”, “The Annals of Clonmacnoise”, and his compendium of Irish history, The work he was engaged on when death took him to his reward is entitled “Our Martyrs”, and is a detailed account of those who died for the Faith in the different religious persecutions in Ireland from the period which is styled the Reformation. This book was the carrying out of part of the work he under took a few years ago at the suggestion of the Irish bishops - viz, the promotion of the claims to canonization of those Irishmen and women who had suffered death for religion's sake. “The School History of Ireland”, which was published in 1893, fulfils a useful work, This little book, which was brought up to date from the earliest periods, contains on its last page a graceful allusion to Mr Parnell's honoured name, and the services he rendered Ireland, which is, perhaps, remarkable when we remember the position of the writer and how high party seeling ran at the year of the publication of the book. Besides faithfully discharging the duties of a missionary priest, and a teacher in several schools and colleges, Father Murphy managed to make time in his busy life to fill with credit to himself positions of responsibility in many learned societies. He was a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, a Vice-President of the Royal Academy and a Council member of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, and of the National Literary Society. He was editor of the “Kildare Archaeological Journal”, and took a particular interest in similar publications in Cork, Waterford, and Belfast. Such are Father Murphy's services as a historical researcher and a reliable interpreter of records difficult of access as to cause abiding regret that his books are so few. His place as an Irish scholar will not easily be filled ; his place as a thoughtful, ever faithful friend never can”.
His funeral was attended by a large number of clergymen and other citizens of Dublin, the coffin being covered with numerous beautiful wreaths. One in particular calls for our notice. The staff at the establishment of Father Murphy's printers (Messrs Sealy, Bryers, and Walker), subscribed for and forwarded a costly wreath to be laid on his coffin. The gift was accompanied by a large card bearing the imprint of an open book, the left hand page of which bore the following inscription :
REV DENIS MURPHY SJ, LLD,
Died May 18th, 1896
A Tribute of great Respect
From the Staff of his Printers,
Messrs SEALY, BRYERS, and WALKER,
Middle Abbey Street.
The other page contained the following :
The concluding sentences of a corrected proof found at his death-bedside addressed to the Printer -
“But he chose the better part, he finished his course, and kept the faith. As to the rest, there was laid up for him a crown of justice which the just Judge gave him, and will give to all that love His coming”.
◆ The Crescent : Limerick Jesuit Centenary Record 1859-1959
Bonum Certamen ... A Biographical Index of Former Members of the Limerick Jesuit Community
Father Denis Murphy (1833-1896)
Was born at Scarteen, Newmarket, Co Cork. He was educated at Clongowes and, on being admitted to the Society, was sent to France for his noviceship. He pursued his higher studies at Bonn, and Paderborn, and was ordained at St Beuno's, in Wales in 1862. On his return to Ireland he was appointed to the teaching staff at Clongowes where he remained until 1867 when he set out for Spain to make his tertianship at Manresa. On his return from Spain, Father Murphy began his long association with the Crescent. From 1868 to 1874 he was a member of the teaching staff while he was also minister of the house, and in charge of the church choir. In 1874 he joined the mission staff then resident in Limerick and remained a member of it until 1883. During his years in Limerick, Father Murphy was held in the deepest respect and affection by all who knew him. He was known and appreciated as a man of versatile intellectual qualities. But this incident shows something of his very practical bent. During his years at the Crescent, it came to his notice that the widowed mother of two Crescent boys was having trouble with a leaking roof. She had seen better days and was in receipt of an annuity just enough to cover up the poverty of herself and children. She told Father Murphy that the estimates for repairs were beyond her resources short of going deeply into debt. Father Murphy, to calm her anxiety, went off to the builders, bought the wood at wholesale and with the help of the elder son of the widow, carried out the repairs on the roof with such skill that the next repairs became necessary only some forty years after Father Murphy's death.
In 1883, Father Murphy was transferred to University College, Dublin, where he was appointed to the post of bursar and librarian. His new post gave him enough spare time to work on his historical notes, the results of his researches during his scholastic days. For during his early years, he had travelled extensively in Europe to collect historical data on the persecutions for the Faith in Ireland. His researches brought him to the archives of cities so widely separated as Madrid, Lisbon, Douai, Louvain, Paris, Vienna and Prague. In his generation, Father Murphy was probably Ireland's most informed historian. After some five years at University College, Father Murphy was transferred to Milltown Park to take over the chair of moral theology. Fortunately, for Irish historical scholarship he was released from his post and returned to University College where he spent the last four years of his life. His monumental work entitled Our Martyrs was just finished in the press, but not yet published, the day before his death. For the last ten years of his life, he held from the Irish hierarchy the post of official Postulator of the Cause of the Irish Martyrs.
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‘Historia S.J. in Hibernia’ by Fr Denis Murphy SJ.
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