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Richard Murphy (6 August 1927 – 30 January 2018) was an Anglo-Irish poet.


Murphy was born to an Anglo-Irish family at Milford House, near the Mayo-Galway border, in 1927.[1] He spent much of his early childhood in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) where his father William Lindsay Murphy served in the Colonial Service and was active as mayor of Colombo, later becoming Governor General of the Bahamas (in succession to the Duke of Windsor).[1] Murphy received his education at the King's School, Canterbury and Wellington College. He won a scholarship to Magdalen College, Oxford at the age of 17, where he studied English under C.S. Lewis.[1] He was later educated at the Sorbonne, and ran a school in Crete between 1953 and 1954.[1] In his Archaeology of Love (1955), Murphy reflects on his experiences in England and Continental Europe.[1]

His childhood in Ireland was documented in the film The Other Irish Travellers, made by his niece Fiona Murphy.[2]

In 1954, he settled at Cleggan, on the coast of Galway. Several years later, in 1959, he purchased and renovated the Ave Maria, a traditional hooker-type boat, from Inishbofin fisherman, Michael Schofield, which he used to ferry visitors to the island.[1] He purchased Ardoileán (High Island), a small island in the vicinity of Inishbofin, in 1969.

Personal life

Murphy married Patsy Strang.[3] From 1971, he was a poet-in-residence at nine American universities. In later years he lived in Sri Lanka, having previously divided his time between Durban, South Africa, where his daughter and her family reside, and Dublin. He was the maternal grandfather of YouTuber Caspar Lee.[4] A memoir of his life and times, The Kick, was published by Granta in 2002, constructed from detailed diaries kept over the course of five decades.

Murphy died at his Sri Lanka home on 30 January 2018.[5]

Awards and honours

  • AE Memorial Award for Poetry, 1951
  • First prize, Guinness Awards, 1962
  • British Arts Council Award, 1967 and 1976
  • Irish Arts Council Award (Marten Toonder), 1980
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, 1969
  • Member of Aosdána, Ireland, 1982
  • American Irish Foundation Literary Award, 1983
  • Included in the Oxford Companion to English Literature, 1985
  • Poetry Book Society Translation Award, London, 1989
  • Society of Authors Foundation Award, 2002
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