Professor Emeritus John A. Murphy RIP

1 Mar 2022
Professor Emeritus John A. Murphy RIP

It is with great sadness that we have learned of the passing of Professor Emeritus John A. Murphy.  John A. had a very distinguished career in UCC and an influential role in the shaping of Irish public opinion, especially in relation to the Northern Ireland crisis.

Born in Macroom in 1927, he came to UCC on scholarship in 1945, and was influenced particularly by James Hogan, the Professor of History, who described him as the best student he ever had. After a First Class BA he did an exceptional MA and published a series of key articles on the early modern period. But his best-known publication was his hugely influential Ireland in the Twentieth Century (1975, 1989). He was a secondary teacher in Farrenferris for a decade, during which he published the two-volume Stair na hEorpa. He became Assistant Lecturer under Hogan in 1960, and was appointed Professor of Irish History in 1971, a position which he held until his retirement in 1990. He was a wonderful communicator, an unforgettable lecturer, and a great mentor and advocate of students and younger staff. 

John A. made a major contribution to the Irish public’s engagement with history through his deep involvement over many years with the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society and its excellent Journal; through various Thomas Davis radio lectures and many other contributions to the media, especially his very popular weekly columns in the Sunday Independent (1984-2003). His election to the Irish Senate (1977-1983, and 1987-1992) gave him a new platform in his campaign to challenge simplistic nationalist orthodoxies, and he is widely acknowledged to have played a courageous and valuable part in the development of the Peace Process. 

His contributions to UCC went far beyond his professorial duties, initially as a member of Governing Body and the Senate of the NUI for many years. He then became the University’s historian (and honoured formally as such), starting with the widely admired The College: A History of Queens/University College Cork 1845-1995, which was followed by three further books on UCC. He was awarded an honorary doctorate in 2001, and to mark his ninetieth birthday the University had a bust of John A. by Seamus Murphy cast in bronze. 

John A. was much loved across the UCC community, famous for his wit and wonderful singing voice, and as the great proponent of the historic mission and proper modus operandi of the University being a community of scholars, comprising both staff and students. 

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a h'anam dílis.


Prof John A Murphy - UCC 98.3FM Features and Docs | Podcast on Spotify

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