On This Day- 16.2.1902  Birth of Delia Murphy




She was ‘The Ballad Queen’ whose voice and presentation would probably not conform to modern tastes, but, in a parallel and hazardous life, she also helped save hundreds of Jews and Allied soldiers from imprisonment, or the gas chambers. Delia Murphy may not have been Enya, but she was a courageous and remarkable woman nonetheless.

She had a relatively privileged upbringing in rural Ireland in the early 1900s. She was born in Mayo on the Mount Jennings Estate in Hollymount, in 1902. Her father, John Murphy, was one of those rarities, a returned emigrant who had made a fortune in North America. He had struck it rich during the Klondike gold fever of the 1890s, married a woman from Tipperary, and came back to Mayo. Despite his wealth, John Murphy was an exceptional individual in his own right, not least because he was happy for members of the travelling community to camp in the grounds of his newly acquired estate. This had beneficial consequences for his daughter, who learned many of the ballads that would later make her famous, around the campfires of the travellers.

Delia was fortunate, and somewhat unusual for a woman in those days, in receiving an education up to, and including, third level. She studied Commerce in University College, Galway, where she met and married fellow student, Tom Kiernan when she was twenty-two years old.


Kiernan then joined the Irish diplomatic service and was posted to London. That was where Delia’s career really began to take off. The huge Irish emigré population in pre-war London took to her singing, and her rise in popularity led to the recording in 1939, by His Master’s Voice—shortened in more recent days to the more familiar HMV—of some of her best-known songs, such as, If I Were a Blackbird, The Spinning Wheel and Three Lovely Lassies. Her popularity was probably based as much on her personality and charm as it was on her singing, because, truth be told, she was no female John McCormick.

And that might have been all there was worth saying about Delia Murphy, had Tom Kiernan not been transferred in 1941, by the Department of External Affairs, from London to Rome, as Irish Chargé d’Affaires (or Minister) to the Vatican. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour in December 1941, and US entry into the war, the Irish legation in Rome became the only English-speaking diplomatic mission left in the city.

In 1943 Mussolini was deposed and Allied POWs in Italy were released. Nazi Germany, however, rapidly reasserted fascist dominance, and the POWs were in danger of re-capture. Enter the extraordinary Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty, an Irish priest based in the Vatican City. For the next two years, he led a network which sheltered Allied soldiers on the run, and Jews in danger of being dispatched to Nazi death camps. They were hidden in dozens of safe houses in Rome and elsewhere. Delia Murphy was one of O’Flaherty’s closest associates in this hazardous enterprise. When in Rome O’Flaherty did as the Romans did, assuming a variety of disguises so that he could pass as Italian. But, as the SS grew more aware of his activities, and attempted to assassinate him, he was compelled to remain inside the confines of the politically independent enclave of the Vatican City, where the Germans couldn’t touch him.


After the war, Delia Murphy travelled with her diplomat husband to Australia, Germany, Canada and the USA where she continued to record and perform. In 1962, she recorded her only LP, The Queen of Connemara, in New York. Two years after the death of her husband, she returned to Ireland, and lived in Chapelizod outside Dublin. She died there in 1971 at the age of sixty-nine.

Delia Murphy, friend of the Irish traveller, ballad singer, and audaciously altruistic people smuggler, was born one hundred and sixteen years ago, on this day.



On This Day 9.2.1983 Kidnapping of Shergar




Would the name Cresswell mean anything to you? If it does, perhaps you should keep that to yourself, in case you become implicated in one of the greatest unsolved crimes in Irish history.

The main victim, who probably lost his life, was one of the most successful athletes of the 1980s, winning the blue riband event of his sport by the greatest margin ever recorded. In June 1981, at the running of the two hundred and first Epsom Derby, Shergar, with a teenage Walter Swinburn on board, showed a clean pair of heels to the field, in winning by ten lengths. So far ahead was he, that John Mathias, rider of the runner up, Glint of Gold, thought he was actually winning, until he spotted Shergar up ahead in the distance.

Shergar re-asserted his dominance a few weeks later in the Irish Derby at the Curragh, but the longer fourteen furlong trip of the final classic of the year, the St. Leger, was too much for him. The dual Derby winner only managed to finish fourth, and was retired to stud. His career as a stallion would be short.

Shergar had been owned by the Aga Khan. Before the horse’s stud career began, however, he had cashed in some of his chips, and sold shares in the horse to a few very interested buyers. Shergar had a syndicated value of £10m when he began to have sex with other horses for a living. Life as an equine gigolo was certainly preferable to being whipped by undersized men. Shergar the racehorse had been trained by Michael Stoute in England, Shergar the sire was based in Ballymanny Stud in Kildare. If you wanted him to get together with your favourite mare it would set you back at least a cool fifty grand.

In his only season as a professional Dad he sired thirty-five foals. They only ever produced one classic winner between them, and that was in the lowly Irish St. Leger. We never got to find out if the next crop would be any better, because there was none.

On the night of the 8 February 1983 a gang of at least six men, all apparently calling each other ‘Cresswell’, kidnapped Shergar’s groom James Fitzgerald, forced him to identify the Derby-winning colt’s stable, and stole the horse. Fitzgerald was released around midnight, after being given the code phrase—King Neptune—the gang intended to use in ransom negotiations.


What happened next was such a comedy of errors that had Shakespeare been around, he would have changed the plot of  his eponymous play. When Fitzgerald managed to raise the alarm in the early hours of 9 February the manager of the Ballymany Stud phoned the horse’s vet Stan Cosgrove, one of the members of the shareholding syndicate. So, obviously, Stan Cosgrove phoned the Gardai. Well, not exactly, he phoned a friend, as if he was a contestant in Who Wants to Be a Millionaire rather than the victim of a serious crime. The friend then phoned the Minister for Finance, Alan Dukes … as you would. Dukes, probably became part of the chain because he was TD for Kildare and TDs, as we know, have all the answers. Alan Dukes, very sensibly referred the distraught shareholders to the Minister for Justice, Michael Noonan. Why not the Minister for Agriculture, one wonders, surely he would have more to do with horses.

Anyway, after the gang was safely home, having breakfast, and looking forward to reading about their exploits in the morning papers, before making that all important first call, someone told the cops.


That was when Chief Superintendent James Murphy got involved. Here was a man who knew he was a detective, because he wore a trilby hat. During one press interview Chief Superintendent Murphy is supposed to have uttered the immortal phrase ‘A clue … that is what we haven’t got.’ Philip Marlowe he was not, despite the trilby. The lack of clues persuaded Murphy to act on information supplied by psychics and clairvoyants. If you made this stuff up and put it in a story you would spend the rest of your life trying to find an agent for your work.

No one ever found poor Shergar. When last seen he was being ridden by Elvis Presley in the Adolf Hitler stakes in Atlantis. The IRA were blamed for the theft at the time, this theory being reinforced by the 1999 memoir written by the IRA informer Sean O’Callaghan.

Whoever stole Shergar probably overlooked two salient facts. Firstly, horses are bigger, stronger and more highly strung than human kidnap victims. The fashionable theory is that the kidnpappers were forced to kill their victim within hours because they had no clue how to handle him. Secondly, the Aga Khan didn’t own Shergar anymore, having sold thirty-three of the forty shares in the horse. This made ransom negotiations a little bit like a White House press conference. No ransom was ever paid and Shergar has not been seen since. If still alive he would be approaching human middle-age.

Somebody finally told the Garda Siochana that Shergar had been kidnapped, thirty five years ago, on this day.




On This Day – The Birth of James Joyce and the publication of Ulysees



The second of February was a red-letter day in the life of James Augustine Aloysius Joyce. It was his date of birth, and of the publication, on his fortieth birthday, of probably the greatest novel of the twentieth century, Ulysees.

As you probably know the action of the novel all takes place in a single day, 16 June 1904, which just happens to be the day that Joyce and his future wife Nora Barnacle, first ‘stepped out’ together. What you may not know is how close the narrative of Leopold Bloom came to becoming a short story in the Dubliners collection, published in 1906. Joyce briefly considered, and then abandoned the idea.

He started writing Ulysees in 1914, as the continent of Europe began to eat itself alive. He completed it in October 1921. The content, judged as obscene by authorities in the USA and Britain on numerous occasions, made it far too hot to handle for any mainstream publisher, so the book was brought out by Syliva Beach, owner of the Parisian left-bank bookshop, Shakespeare and Company. We won’t even get started on how the novel was greeted in his native country. Oddly enough it was never actually banned here. But just try buying a copy in a Dublin bookshoop in the 1920s!

The first thing to be said about Ulysees is that it is actually very funny. The stream of consciousness technique that Joyce used can alienate a casual reader but if you just sit down and map your own thought processes for about five minutes, it all makes much more sense.

Another thing about Joyce was that if you ever came across him and made an impression of any kind, for good or ill, the chances are that you would end up in one of his books. You might not recognise yourself for the monster that you were, or you might, and then look forward to your next meeting with the short-sighted and vindictive author.

So, who is who in Ulysees?

Not much doubt about Stephen Dedalus, as Joyce’s alter ego had already appeared as the ‘artist’ in his novel Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

Bloom may have been based on a Dubliner named Alfred Hunter. Joyce had got himself involved in a drunken fight in St. Stephen’s Green, where he came off worse. He was helped by Hunter, who brought him to his home and looked after him. Hunter was Jewish and was said to have been cuckolded by his unfaithful wife. All of which makes him uniquely qualified him for consideration as the template for Leopold.

Then there’s ‘stately plump Buck Mulligan’, who appears in the first sequence, set in the Martello Tower in Sandycove which, for a brief period—six days in all—Joyce shared with the poet, novelist and future senator, Oliver St. John Gogarty. The two men fell out before Joyce abandoned Dublin for Zurich in 1904. The portrayal of Mulligan is not precisely how Gogarty would have liked to be remembered. But, as time passes, few have any recollection of the man himself, while his loutish and God-awful fictional representation remains fresh in the mind of anyone who has read the book. Revenge is, after all, a dish best served cold. Gogarty himself sought some consolation in being, as he put it, the only character in any of Joyce’s work, ‘who washes, shaves and swims’.

Joyce finally completed Ulysees in Paris, to which he had been invited by the celebrated poet, and proto-fascist, Ezra Pound. He was supposed to stay for a couple of weeks but ended up living there for two decades. Just as neutral Switzerland had been his home during the Great War, he fled Paris in advance of the Nazi German invasion in 1940, and returned to Zurich where he died in 1941. Nora Joyce, who finally married her partner in London in 1931, twenty-seven years after their first date, later offered to have his body repatriated for burial in Ireland, an offer which the Irish authorities churlishly declined. So, the grave of Ireland’s greatest author is in the Fluntern cemetery in Zurich, situated, in an irony that Joyce would probably have appreciated, near the city zoo.

James Joyce was born on 2 February 1882, and his masterwork Ulysses, was published ninety-six years ago, on this day.





On This Day – 26.1.1907  The ‘Playboy’ opens in the Abbey Theatre



J.M.SYNGE (1905)

It never ceases to amaze how far people will go out of their way to be offended. It’s a phenomenon on a par only with the numbers of those who will take gross offence at something they have neither seen nor heard, because, obviously, it is so offensive.

Take John Millington Synge’s classic Playboy of the Western World, which opened in the Abbey Theatre in 1907.  W.B.Yeats, the poet and the theatre’s eminence, said of Synge, that ‘whenever a country produces a man of genius, that man is never like the country’s idea of itself’, and he would know. He might just as well have been writing about W.B.Yeats.

Ireland in 1907 liked to think of itself as sober, steady and respectable. In a word, boring. But the West of Ireland seaboard that Synge depicted was wild, rumbustious, sexy and delightfully disreputable. This was, after all, the story of a converted village idiot who enchants a west of Ireland community by telling them that he has ‘killed his da’ with a blow to the head. Not exactly reputable middle class Rathmines and Rathgar sort of material, though it was from the leafy boroughs of Dublin that the theatre drew its audiences.

Of course Synge had ‘previous’ where the fumblers in greasy tills were concerned. This was, after all, the man who had written a drama, The Shadow of the Glen, about a frustrated Wicklow woman who ups and leaves her marriage to follow a tramp she barely knows. Even Henrik Ibsen himself, the Godfather of louche theatre, might have baulked at that one.

So the Dublin middle classes, sober, steady and respectable to a man and woman, were probably lying in wait for Synge’s follow-up to Shadow of the Glen. Just as you might allow the first wave of a headlong attack to pass through your defences, they let the production off the hook on the opening night.

By 28 January, however, a couple of nights into its run, word had got out that if you came to the Abbey you could be truly scarified by what you saw and heard onstage. Catholics could shiver at a Protestant playwright having the anti-hero of the play, Christy Mahon, utter the line:

With the help of God, I killed him surely, and may the holy immaculate mother intercede for his soul.

The prurient could cover their reddened ears in shame when Christy transgressed against sexual morality with the shocking insult to Irish womanhood:

What would I care if you brought me a drift of chosen females, standing in their                shifts itself maybe …

It was the reference to ‘shifts’ that seems to have done it. A ‘shift’ by the way is female undergarment, just in case you have yet to reach the age of sixty. The performance on Monday 28 January was rendered almost inaudible by members of the audience shouting ‘kill the author’, an exceptionally muscular form of theatre review. The following night Yeats called the Dublin Metropolitan Police to keep the peace, while a young Sean O’Casey stood outside the theatre being pushed around by what he described as ‘Gaelic Leaguers foaming at the mouth’.

In the Gaelic League newspaper, An Claidheamh Soluis, which he edited at the time, Patrick Pearse called for a boycott of the play, observing of Synge that, ‘It is not against a nation that he blasphemes so much as against the moral order of the universe.’ In fairness to Pearse, he had changed his tune on Synge, as on much else, by 1913. Neither did the rioters cause the play to be taken off. The run continued, and the disturbances ended.

Later, when the Playboy finally premiered in the west of Ireland, where it was set, many theatre-goers were said to have been bored by the production, their attitude being, ‘You can see the like of that any night you like in the pub’.

When it travelled to the USA in 1911 they were ready for it there too. The performers were booed and hissed throughout the New York opening, and were arrested in Philadelphia and charged with putting on an immoral performance. The charges were later dropped.

By the way, Yeats didn’t come onstage in 1907 and tell the restive audience, ‘You have disgraced yourselves again’. That didn’t happen until the sequel almost twenty years later in 1926 at the Plough and the Stars riots. The artistic riposte on this occasion was for the theatre to launch, at the last count, fifty-six separate stagings or productions of O’Casey’s classic. The Playboy can’t be too far short of that

John Millington Synge’s Playboy of the Western World opened at the Abbey Theatre one hundred and eleven years ago, on this day.






On This Day 19.1.1760 Irish giants



They tended not to live for very long, and, although people, quite literally, looked up to them, they were hardly treated with great respect, either in their lifetimes, or after their deaths.

Of the three most famous eighteenth century Irish giants, Charles Byrne and Cornelius McGrath died before they were twenty-four, while Patrick Cotter lived to the grand old age of forty-six.

McGrath, from Tipperary, reached the height of seven feet six inches at time when men of average height would have been two feet shorter. Between the age of fifteen and sixteen he shot up by twenty-one inches, causing him to suffer from chronic growing pains, from which the consumption of cider appears to have offered some relief. By the time he was sixteen he was already being exhibited for profit, mostly that of others. A portrait of McGrath exists in which he stands beside a Prussian grenadier—Prussians being reckoned as the tallest soldiers in Europe at the time—and McGrath towers over him.

His great height did enable the Tipperary giant to see much of Europe. He was, for example, painted by the artist Pietro Longhi in Venice in 1757, when he was twenty years old. But he didn’t have much longer to live, and when he died in 1760 his body was taken by a number of Trinity College Dublin students to the Department of Anatomy, where he was duly dissected. His skeleton is still retained there today, exhibited for anatomy students, despite many efforts to have his remains properly buried.

Born the year that McGrath died, were the celebrated Charles Byrne, and the even taller Patrick Cotter.

charlesbyrne (2).jpg1024px-Charles_Byrne;_James_Burnett,_Lord_Monboddo;_William_Richardson;_John_Bell;_Baillie_Kyd_by_John_Kay.jpg


Byrne was born in Co.Derry and stopped growing when he reached seven feet seven inches, the same height as the tallest player in the history of the American National Basketball Association, the Romanian Gheorghe Muresan.  By the age of twenty-one he was already performing in a show in London which was built around him, called, predictably enough, The Giant’s Causeway. Within a year, however, he was dead.

Byrne was aware before he died that the famous anatomist, John Hunter, had designs on his corpse. Hunter had already amassed a collection of notable ‘specimens’—his description—for his private museum. To thwart the acquisitive pathologist Byrne ordered that after his death his body should be deposited in a lead coffin, and buried at sea. When the Irish giant died in June 1783, after having had his life savings stolen from him by an enterprising pickpocket,  Hunter arranged for his body to be hijacked as it was being transported to the coast. It has been on display ever since in the museum named after Hunter in the Royal College of Surgeons in London. Numerous campaigns to have Byrne’s dying wish honoured have been ignored. Byrne might be said to have had the last laugh, however, as he was immortalised by Booker prize-winning novelist Hilary Mantel in The Giant, O’Brien in 1998.

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Patrick Cotter, born the same year as Byrne, 1760, is one of fewer than twenty people whose height has been verified at over eight feet. Based in Bristol, Cotter adopted the stage name O’Brien and was exhibited in the ubiquitous freak shows of the eighteenth century, until his death in 1806. He was more fortunate than McGrath and Byrne in that he lived longer than the other two combined, and, on his death, left a legacy of £2000. He also managed to avoid the post-mortem fate of his contemporaries. He was not anatomised, although he greatly feared that he would be and wanted to entombed in twelve feet of solid rock to thwart graverobbers. However, his body was exhumed three times, in 1906, in 1972—when he was officially measured at eight foot and one inch—and in 1986, after which he was cremated, thus finally and definitively avoiding the undignified fate of McGrath and Byrne.

Patrick Cotter, one of three celebrated but generally unfortunate Irish giants of the eighteenth century, was born two hundred and fifty-eight years ago, on this day



Charles Byrne and someone of much lesser stature


On This Day -12.1.1729  Birth of Edmund Burke




He may, or indeed he may not, have uttered the immortal phrase ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing’. He was a supporter of the American Revolution, and a horrified observer and opponent of the subsequent and extraordinarily bloody, French equivalent. He, and his father, were Anglican, although his mother and sister were Roman Catholic. In addition to which he was one of the greatest English statesmen of the eighteenth century. Except, as in many other instances, Edmund Burke was not English, but Irish.

He was born in Dublin in 1729, was educated at a Quaker school, and at Trinity College. In 1765 he was elected to the House of Commons for the constituency of Wendover, an infamous ‘pocket borough’ of barely one hundred voters, so-called because its representation—and it returned two MPs, not one—was in the pocket of Lord Fermanagh. By 1774, however, he had transferred to the constituency of Bristol where he actually had to fight genuine elections. But his advocacy of free trade with Ireland, and Catholic Emancipation, was not to the liking of the voters in the city at the centre of the British slave trade, and from 1780 onwards he was back in a pocket again, in the borough of Malton.

Burke quickly identified himself with the struggle of the American colonists, and the curtailment of the powers of the King at home. He also became part of a social circle that included the great lexicographer Samuel Johnson, the impecunious Irish playwright Oliver Goldsmith, the actor-manager David Garrick, and the artist Joshua Reynolds.

Initially he kept his powder dry when it came to the French Revolution, but as the rule of the guillotine took hold he wrote of revolutionary France that ‘the elements which compose human society seem all to be dissolved, and a world of monsters [is] produced in the place of it’. In his famous Reflections on the Revolution in France, published in November 1790, Burke had a go, not only at the event itself but at its radical British supporters. He also made a few pounds in the process, as the pamphlet went on sale for five shillings, and sold almost twenty thousand copies.

Many have said that Burke’s finest hour was his very personal campaign to impeach the chief factotum of the infamous East India Company, Warren Hastings. Except that it was a bit more than an hour. Burke’s opening speech in the trial of Hastings took four days. His response to the defence case took a further nine days.  Hastings was accused of corruption as Governor General of India, and of having enriched himself during his tenure there. One previous high profile impeachment had been that of the great servant of King Charles 1 in Ireland, Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Stafford. Despite the fact that it failed to impeach, Parliament found a way to execute Stafford anyway. Not that anyone was suggesting that Hastings should face the chop.

The entire procedure, which was in part a political trial designed by the Whigs to embarrass the ruling Tories, began in 1788 and didn’t end until 1795. The whole thing cost Hastings £70,000—which, according to a Bank of England inflation calculator, would be worth £8.5 million today. It all sounds very Tribunal-ish, doesn’t it.

Burke is seen by many historians as the father of English conservatism, but his opposition to British imperialism in Ireland, and India, often meant that he fell foul of the leading Tories of his day. He had lots of enemies, many of whom exploited his Irishness, and the suspicion that he was really a Roman Catholic all along, against him. One contemporary cartoon has Burke peeling a potato while sitting beside a chamber-pot claimed to be a true relic of St. Peter.

Burke, by the way, is also credited with being the first to observe that ‘those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.’ And, indeed, a lot of people have done both, ignored history and repeated Burke’s famous axiom.

Edmund Burke, statesman, writer, orator and philosopher was born two hundred and eighty-nine years ago, on this day






On This Day – 29 December 1844 The birth of William Martin Murphy



They were sometimes, for geographical reasons, known as the ‘Bantry band’. But their, often belligerent, Roman Catholic pietism also earned them the nickname ‘The Pope’s Brass Band’. Their leader may have been Timothy Healy, MP, but William Martin Murphy, entrepreneur, builder, railway-man, Member of Parliament, publisher, strikebreaker, and zealot, was one of the most influential forces within this group of Irish nationalist politicians who came from this beautiful part of west Cork.

Although Murphy inherited some wealth, and a viable building business, from his father, he quickly struck out on his own, and transformed a small fortune into a much larger one.  He turned up in some unexpected places early in his career. While he was known for having made large sums of money building railway lines in Africa, he was also on hand in Milltown Malbay, in January 1885, when Charles Stewart Parnell turned the first sod on the project that became the Ennis and West Clare Railway. Three years after breaking the resolve of the workers of the city of Dublin, he became president of the recently established Rathmines and Rathgar Musical Society. He was succeeded in this office by, in turn, his son and daughter.

His ownership of the Dublin United Tramways Company, and his leadership of the Dublin employers in their successful fight against James Larkin and the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union, renders Murphy infamous, or celebrated, to this day. By locking out workers who refused to sign a pledge not to join Larkin’s union Murphy, in effect, starved them—and their families—into submission.

But of almost comparable significance was his involvement in the newspaper business. This began long before his ownership of the Irish Independent newspaper. In 1891, in the midst of the major political rift caused by the O’Shea divorce, Dublin members of the Parnellite faction took over the offices of the Irish Parliamentary Party newspaper, United Ireland. They ejected of its acting editor, Matthias McDonnell Bodkin, from the premises, offering him the alternative of walking out unscathed, or to take his chances being tossed out the window. The anti-Parnellite faction, which included Murphy, needed a propaganda outlet to match United Ireland. Murphy’s money funded the short-lived National Press, although his name does not appear on the list of those who subscribed to the shareholding that established it.

The National Press was little more than a vehicle for the anti-Parnellite rhetoric and vitriol of Parnell’s greatest antagonist within his own party, Timothy Healy MP.  The newspaper was responsible for a series of controversial editorials. The first of these was entitled ‘Stop Thief’. In this Parnell was accused of the embezzlement of National League funds. The party leader, it was claimed, had, for a number of years, ‘been stealing the money entrusted to his charge’. [their italics] Parnell’s unwillingness to sue the newspaper for libel was exploited in further editorials as the week went on. Emboldened by the non-appearance of a writ, on 2 June the Press reminded its readers that:

“Thief” is an unmistakable word. We called Mr.Parnell a thief. We now repeat the epithet.’.

By the time of his death in October 1891 Parnell had still not sued.  While incarcerated in Galway jail the anti-Parnellite leader John Dillon wrote that:

Loathing is the only word that can express my feeling every time I open the National Press. If that spirit is to triumph, national politics will be turned into a privy.

Later Murphy guaranteed his dominance of the Irish newspaper market when he acquired the Irish Daily Independent in 1905. He would have enjoyed the further acquisition of the old Freeman’s Journal newspaper by his company in 1924, but by then he was dead. As he had passed away five years before, he was not around to enjoy the demise of the 160-year-old Irish Parliamentary Party newspaper.

One of Murphy’s few reversals was his convincing defeat in the 1892 general election for a Dublin constituency by the pro-Parnellite candidate William Field. Murphy lost by a 4:1 margin. Field, as luck would have it, though he ran one of the largest butcher’s businesses in the city, had a background in the labour movement. Though he often expressed his opposition to socialism Field can, arguably, be cited as the only representative of labour to have given William Martin Murphy a political hiding.

William Martin Murphy, dubbed William Murder Murphy by Dublin trade unionists in 1913, was born one hundred and seventy-three years ago, on this day.

[The two cartoons are by Ernest Kavanagh ‘EK’ – regular cartoonist of the Irish Worker]