McDunphy, Michael (1890–1971), civil servant, was born 3 December 1890 in 5 Temple Cottages, Dublin, second of ten children of Michael McDunphy, bread-van driver, originally from Esker, Mountmellick, Queen's Co. (Laois), and Catherine McDunphy (née Conlon), dairy shopkeeper, from Dublin. The family name was originally Dunphy but his father added ‘Mc’ when he joined the Gaelic League, believing that every Irishman should have ‘O' or ‘Mc’ in his name. Educated at North Richmond St. CBS, he also taught there briefly before entering the civil service in 1911 as a second-division clerk in the Department of Education, and was later posted to the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction. Dismissed from the British civil service in 1918 for refusing to take the oath of allegiance, he worked (1918–22) as a travelling sales representative for the Irish Agricultural Wholesale Society. During the war of independence he was briefly a member of the IRA, attached to C Coy, 2nd Bn, Dublin Brigade, and took part in night patrols between O'Connell St. and Fairview. He returned to the Irish Free State civil service in 1922 as assistant secretary to the provisional government (January–December 1922); and was later assistant secretary to the executive council of the Irish Free State (December 1922–December 1937), on two occasions acting as secretary. In 1936 he was a member of an ad hoc committee charged with refining the language of the proposed new constitution. Appointed secretary to the president of Ireland on 29 December 1937, after the creation of the office under the new constitution, he was secretary to the temporary presidential commission which was in place till the appointment of Douglas Hyde (qv) as the first president in June 1938. Regarded as the most important member of Hyde's staff, with talents for organisation and protocol, he was often frustrated by the president's refusal to adhere to schedules. In 1945 he published The president of Ireland: his powers, functions and duties, which he described in its foreword as ‘a summary of the powers, functions, duties, privileges and disabilities of the president under the constitution.’ He also served as secretary to President Seán T. O'Kelly (qv) until August 1954, when he was appointed director of the Irish Life Assurance Company and of Irish Estates Ltd by William Norton (qv), minister of industry and commerce, positions that he held till his resignation in 1964. From 1947 to 1957 he was director of the Bureau of Military History, established to collect oral and documentary evidence from veterans of the independence campaign.
Fluent in German, French, Irish, and Spanish, he studied law at UCD, where he won prizes in jurisprudence and international law, and was called to the bar in 1928; he practised briefly as a barrister after his retirement from the civil service in 1959. A founder member of the Irish Aero Club, he was a friend of the airman Col. James Fitzmaurice (qv), with whom he registered the first aeroplane in the Irish Free State, on behalf of the Irish Aero Club, and with whom he also flew on occasions. McDunphy was also member of the Austrian and Hallan alpine clubs and of the British Astronomical Association. His other interests included military history and the agricultural cooperative movement.
He married (1 September 1915) Mary B. Stanley, daughter of Joseph Stanley and Anne Stanley (née Larkin). They had one son, Desmond, and two daughters, Eileen and Brenda, and lived at ‘Kincora’, 25 St Lawrence Road, Clontarf, and ‘Inver’, 448 Howth Road, Raheny. He died 19 October 1971 in St Joesph's nursing home, Raheny, leaving an estate of £2,729. His papers are in the possession of his son, and his statements to the Bureau of Military History are in the military archives. A portrait by Seán O'Sullivan (qv), RHA, is in the possession of his grandson, and a bronze bust by Seamus Murphy (qv), RHA, is held by his daughter.