|Tom Cunningham – Belfast – April, 2007.
Further information on the family of
wife of Arthur Marmion
To date we know that Catherine Murphy was the daughter of Laurence and Bridget Murphy of Newry, Co. Down, Northern Ireland. She had at least one brother also called Laurence and a sister called Anne Jane.
A family settlement drawn up in 1819 by Catherine’s father was witnessed by, among others, a Piers Murphy of Lowertown, County Louth. Lowertown is only a short distance removed from Newry and close to the town of Dundalk. The deed of settlement which was lodged with the Registry of Deeds in Dublin contained no clue as to the relationship of Piers Murphy to the Murphy family of Newry.
The recent discovery of an article in the 1974 journal of the County Louth Archaeological and Historical Society, written by Mr. Canice O’Mahony, is devoted entirely to the history of Catherine’s maternal family, the Murphy family of north Louth. Mr. O’Mahony is also descended from this family.
We now know that Catherine’s parents were both Murphy. This article is an important discovery, the type of find that researchers of family history seldom ever come across. It was previously overlooked because the title ‘The Genealogy of a North Louth Family’ offered no clue as to the family in question.
It makes for fascinating reading, containing as it does not only a detailed family tree but much useful information on the social and economic history of the period. Piers Murphy turns out to be Catherine’s uncle, a brother of her mother Bridget.
William Carelton, the famous Irish novelist, when he left home to seek his fortune in Dublin, stopped off at the home of Piers Murphy and for a brief period was tutor to his children whom he found delightful to teach. Unfortunately his relationship with Piers was less harmonious and they parted not on the best of terms. Carleton did however in his autobiography describe the Murphy home, the well stocked farm, and all the trappings of wealth which accompanied it. Piers could best be described as a ‘gentleman farmer’.
Following the defeat of Napoleon in 1815 Irish agriculture experienced a severe downturn. Farm produce prices which had been high during the French wars
drastically declined and farmers such as Piers unless they could diversify quickly were bound to suffer. This he attempted to do and bought a tan yard in Newry but success appears to have eluded him and he ended his days living in a small house in Dundalk.
To return to the family tree; Piers and Catherine’s mother Bridget were two of the fifteen children of Piers Murphy senior and his wife Kitty Smith. Catherine had three first cousins who emigrated to Australia – Bridget, Annie and Esmay (a Christian name peculiar, as was that of Piers, to this family). Catherine, as we know, also emigrated to New South Wales. This journey, in those years, was extremely hazardous and not one to be undertaken by the faint hearted. It would be interesting to know if the four girls travelled together, either way we can only stand in admiration of them – these were formidable women!
The family tree shows another Catherine Murphy marrying a Marmion. She was a first cousin of Arthur Marmion’s wife Catherine and she married a Nicholas Marmion of Dundalk. She would have been one of the Murphy children tutored by William Carleton. If this couple had any family they are not named.
Catherine’s mother Bridget may also have had an uncle, a bishop. The patriarch of the family is given as Patt Murphy of Drumlerry, near Oldcastle in Co. Meath. In a book entitled ‘The Diocese of Meath in the Eighteenth Century’ written by Patrick Fagan and published by Four Courts Press in 2001 a chapter is devoted to Dr. Patrick Plunket, bishop of Meath, 1779-1827.
Patrick was born the son of Thomas Plunket Esq., a well to do merchant, and Mary Murphy the daughter of a Patrick Murphy Esq., of Drumlyzzey, Co. Meath. Fagan believes this may be a mistake for Drumlerry and goes on to say that since both families were termed Esq., they were apparently not far removed from the gentry.
An examination of the family tree reveals that Patt had a daughter called Maria and among his other children one called Patt who had a home in Dublin. Bishop Plunket it is recorded regularly, on his visits to Dublin, stayed with his maternal cousins ‘the highly respectable family’ of Murphy of Braymount in Summerhill parish.
While we cannot say conclusively that Dr. Plunket is maternally descended from Catherine’s great grandfather Patt Murphy of Drumlerry the evidence does seem to point to it.
I wish to thank Mr. Noel Ross, Hon. Editor of the County Louth Archaeological and Historical Journal for permission to post this material and other material which is to follow on the ‘marmionfamilytree’ website. Nor should we fail to recognise the scholarship of Canice O’Mahony whose forensic skills unearthed the family history and made it available to future generations.
The following is taken from an article in the CLAHS journal, vol. 11, no 3, 1947, entitled ‘The Chamberlains of Nizelrath’ and written by T.G.F. Patterson