Michael Murphy was born in either Ballinoulart, Castleannesley or in Kilnew, County Wexford. He was educated at a hedge school in Oulart, ordained at Wexford in 1785, and traveled to France the following fall. Upon his return he became parish priest of Ballycanew, and according to Musgrave "behaved himself with very great propriety till the rebellion broke out." Murphy took up arms following the ransacking of his church by Crownyeomen on 27 May (most church leaders were opposed to the conflict). He then travelled to Gorey, Kilthomas Hill, and joined Fr. John Murphy (of Boolavogue) on Ballyorril Hill. Fr. Michael Murphy was shot and killed as he fought on horseback at the Battle of Arklow on 9 June 1798. He was leading an attack on a gun position defending the western approach to the town. Murphy was buried at Castle Ellis.