Murphy, Michael (1924–98), catholic bishop, was born 18 February 1924 in Anahala, Toames, Macroom, Co. Cork, the youngest of a family of four of Michael Murphy, farmer and his wife, Annie O'Mahony, both of Co. Cork. His father died a month before he was born; after the death of his mother, when he was seven, he went to live with relatives in Macroom. Murphy started school in Toames national school, Kilmichael, and completed his primary education in Macroom. He went as a boarder to St Finbarr's seminary, Farranferris, Cork in 1937 and launched his career in hurling, leading the college teams to Cork and Munster titles in virtually every grade of hurling. He played for three years on the Cork minor hurling team and won an all-Ireland medal in 1941. He played club hurling with Glen Rovers, and minor football with Macroom, helping them to win the mid-Cork championship.
He left Cork in 1942 to study for the priesthood at St Patrick's College, Maynooth, where his sporting prowess was highlighted on the athletic field. The hundred-yard sprint champion in the college, he defeated the reigning national champion, Kevin Connolly. Ordained a priest for the Cork diocese at Maynooth on 19 June 1949, he spent the first six years of his priesthood in two parishes in Washington, DC, where he worked among recent migrant families who endured racism and poor housing and living conditions. In 1955, he returned to Ireland serving as curate for two years in Ballingeary, Co. Cork, before being transferred to the cathedral parish in Cork. He was one of four Cork priests assigned to the St James's Missionary Society, Boston, in July 1961, to work in the Peruvian Andes among a people who lived 2,700 metres above sea level. Returning to Cork in 1964, he was appointed curate of the cathedral in August. He left Cork again on 18 February 1965 for what became known as the Cork and Ross diocesan mission to Peru, working on the first mission parish in Trujillo. He would later oversee the extension of the mission in 1992 to include part of the city of Manta, Ecuador.
Returning to Cork in July 1969, he became president of Farranferris College. He was appointed titular bishop of Sila and coadjutor bishop of Cork and Ross on 6 April 1976 and also parish priest of Douglas, Cork. On the retirement of Bishop Cornelius Lucey (qv) in 1980, Murphy became bishop of Cork and Ross on 23 August. A member of the board of trustees of the charity Trócaire, he was on its executive committee from June 1985 until his death. One of his principal concerns as bishop was debt in developing countries and the pressure which debt repayments exerted on the daily lives of their citizens. He had a horror of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, which he saw as running roughshod over those living in poverty. He played a significant role in establishing community colleges in peripheral areas of Co. Cork and provided for the pastoral needs of vocational schools and community colleges. He was very aware of the effects of unemployment on family life and his strong commitment to the family resulted in setting up the family centre in Cork to provide a range of social services. He was responsible for the establishment of Cara House, a project offering respite care to people with special needs, and ‘Hearth’, offering support and shelter to single parents and their children.
Murphy died at his home, 7 October 1996.