Fr. John Murphy Of Bollavogue Fame Led His people Into Battle For Ireland's Cause
‘AND THE YEOS AT TULLOW TOOK FR MURPHY AND BURNT HIS BODY UPON THE RACK’
For courage, bravery and the unity of his people Fr. John Murphy went to his death, with his soul intact and his body at the mercy of his captors. All he sought was an end to the abuse of Catholic people and freedom for his native land.The year was 1798 when an Irish Rebellion stood shoulder to shoulder with an army vastly superior in numbers and arms.
Born to Thomas Murphy and Johanna Whitty in 1753 at Tincurry, Ferns, Co. Wexford, John was the youngest son of a family of six offspring including one daughter.
The family farmed less than sixty five acres as tenant farmers and the land was very fertile and produced sufficient income to maintain a reasonable standard of living.
Young John Murphy grew up when the Penal Laws were rampant all over Ireland and teaching pupils religious doctrines was strictly forbidden. This did not deter a willing pupil such as John from total application to his learning.
It was soon recognised by the Hedgemasters that this young boy had an exceptional talent for languages, especially Greek and Latin. The pupil possessed a notable flair for athletics and often challenged colleagues to many tests of endurance and strength and he was most times victorious. John also had a great passion for handball and thrived at the popular sport.
The Murphy family also operated a successful bacon curing business and by 1778 John was now a prominent role on the farm as the horseman.
The responsibility entailed breeding, training and overall working the horses, the sole source of mechanism to carry out heavy duty work on the farm in that era. Although not totally unexpected by the family, John announced to his family around his twenty fifth birthday, that he felt a calling to the church. This would require careful consideration, not to mention the task of finding a suitable replacement on the farm.
John Murphy was ordained in late 1779, aged twenty seven and was dispatched to Seville, Spain to complete his studies. He would return home in 1785 as a fully fledged priest and he was then appointed as Curate of Kilcormuck.
The peace of Co. Wexford began to decay around the early 1790’s and by 1798 Yeoman soldiers were torturing and crucifying working class people.
A virtually unknown Fr. John decided to lead his people into battle at the summit of Oulart Hill and claimed a historic victory in a fierce battle. Under his command the towns of Enniscorthy and later, Wexford, were also taken.
Several more successful battles ensued with Fr. John in command until finally, exhausted and hungry, the priest and his bodyguard were found resting in a haybarn on the outskirts of Tullow, Co. Carlow, by Yeoman forces and taken to the local barracks.
In a bizarre trial the captives were sentenced to death. After both men were stripped and tied to the Tullow town whipping post, severe flogging was carried out to extract information, but to no avail.
Both men were then hanged. Not content at this point, the Yeoman cut off Fr. Murphy's head and placed it into a burning tar barrel and forced a family out of their home to see his head burning.
English soldiers later hung the remains on spikes in the town square.
Fr. John Murphy's name will never be erased from the history books of Ireland's fight for freedom for over 800 years.