Waterford County Museum, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, Ireland. Charity Reg: 17397
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Seán Murphy RIP

Waterford County Museum is saddened to hear of the passing of Seán Murphy. Seán had many talents, he was a gifted raconteur, and a cast member of 'Bachelors in Trouble'. Filmed over three decades the 'Bachelors in Trouble' comedic films became a Waterford institution. Seán was also a gifted historian operating in partnership with his wife Síle. 

This husband-and-wife team of local historians researched the local stories of the Comeraghs, Kilmacthomas, and Co. Waterford for well over forty years and accumulated a vast store of written material on diverse topics of social interest. They were actively involved in the cultural life of mid-Waterford during all of this time. Seán was a Kilmacthomas native but as he said himself, he had lived in the mountains for over forty years. As a social welfare officer serving West Waterford, he absorbed a vast store of the lore of Co. Waterford and the Comeraghs. As the pension officer he had to interview many veterans of the War of Independence, collecting valuable historical information in the process. At a time when it was neither fashionable nor encouraged, he documented the contribution made by these veterans to Irish independence. 

Publications by the Murphys include: The Comeraghs: Holy Year Cross (1973), The Comeraghs: fact and fancy (1974), The Comeraghs: fact and famine (1975), The Comeraghs: refuge of rebels (1980), The Comeraghs: famine, eviction and revolution (1996), Waterford: heroes, poets and villains (1999) and The Comeraghs: gunfire and civil war (2003 & 2020). Seán also part authored the Kilmacthomas section of The towns and villages of the Waterford Greenway (2018). 

It should come as no surprise that Seán and Síle donated all of the considerable profits of their most recent publication to Waterford County Museum. Working with Seán to publish the book was a privilege and it was joy to see a new generation discover this accessible and important local history book.  

Seán's historical legacy will be much more than the publications he has left behind. The many younger historians who came into contact with him benefitted from Seán’s knowledge and generosity with his time. He provided an object lesson as to how local history could be done in a supportive, collegial manner. These historians will write their own books and I’ve no doubt they will draw on Seán’s example as an inspiration. 

Seán was more interested in preserving the memory of those who worked for Irish freedom than any fame that might accrue to himself. As can be seen in the foreword that he authored for the most recent edition of The Comeraghs: gunfire and civil war he was conscious of the debt that he felt was due to that generation. I can think of no more fitting epitaph for Seán than to use the words he used in that heartfelt foreword. He was a man of great integrity and honour, and it was our privilege to have known him. 

"In our research for the book we found the veterans to be men and women of great integrity and honour, who had suffered great hardship in their youth for the cause of Irish freedom. We the generation who came after them owe them a great debt, which we have not really paid. All these heroes have gone to their eternal reward and are now the stuff of history. I hope that this book will show that the men and women of Waterford were as active as any others and it was they who held out to the bitter end, till eventually the Civil War concluded in the Comeragh Mountains." Seán Murphy 

To Seán’s wife Síle, his children: Jack, Bob, Lia, and Mahon, his extended family, and many friends our most sincere condolences. 

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam 



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