Richard Murphy (poet)

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Richard Murphy (born 1927 in County Mayo, Ireland) is an Irish poet. He is a member of Aosdána and currently lives in Sri Lanka.


Early years[edit]

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 served in the Colonial Service and was active as mayor of Colombo and Governor General of the Bahamas (in succession to the Duke of Windsor).[1] He first received his education at Canterbury School[disambiguation needed] and Wellington College. He won a scholarship to Magdalen College, Oxford, at 17, where he studied English under C.S. Lewis.[1] He was later educated at the Sorbonne and between 1953 and 1954, he ran a school in Crete.[1] In his Archaeology of Love (1955), Murphy reflects on his experiences in England and the Continent.[1]

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

Return to Ireland[edit]

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

Personal life[edit]

Murphy married Patsy Strang.[3] Since 1971 he has been a poet-in-residence at nine American universities. Now he lives in Sri Lanka, he previously divided his time between Dublin and Durban, South Africa, where his daughter and her family reside. In 2002, a unique memoir of his life and times, The Kick, was published by Granta, constructed from astonishingly detailed diaries kept over the course of five decades.


In 1951, he received the Æ Memorial Award for Poetry in Ireland;[1] first prize, Guinness Awards, Cheltenham (1962); British Arts Council Awards (1967 and 1976); Marten Toonder Award (1980); Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature (1969); and American-Irish Foundation Award (1983).


His poetry collections include:

  • The Archaeology of Love (Dolmen, 1955)
  • Sailing to an Island (Faber, 1963)
  • The Battle of Aughrim (Knopf, and Faber, 1968; LP recording 1969)
  • High Island (Faber 1974)
  • High Island: New and Selected Poems (Harper and Row, 1975)
  • Selected Poems (Faber 1979)
  • The Price of Stone (Faber 1985)
  • The Price of Stone and Earlier Poems (Wake Forest U. Press, 1985)
  • New Selected Poems (Faber, 1989)
  • The Mirror Wall (Dublin, Wolfhound Press, 1989, Wake Forest U. Press, 1989)
  • In The Heart Of The Country: Collected Poems (Oldcastle, Co Meath, Gallery Press, 2000)
  • Collected Poems Wake Forest University Press, Winston-Salem, 2001.


  • The Kick. A Life among Writers (Granta, 2002)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Welch, Robert (ed.). The Oxford Companion to Irish Literature. p. 383. 
  2. ^ "The Other Irish Travellers". Storyville. BBC. 2012-12-16. Retrieved 2013-03-27. 
  3. ^ Motion, Andrew (1993). Philip Larkin - A Writer's Life. London: Faber. ISBN 0571151744. 

Secondary sources[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Bowers, Neal (1982). "Richard Murphy: The Landscape of the Mind". Journal of Irish Literature 11.3: 33-42.
  • Harmon, Maurice (ed.) (1978). Richard Murphy: Poet of Two Traditions. Dublin: Wolfhound.

External links[edit]