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Br Martin Murphy SJ: may he rest in peace

Death has finally got the better of Martin Murphy, but after a mighty struggle. Born in Ringsend, he learned his building skills and qualifications (a Diploma from the Catholic Workers College) before he entered the Jesuits at the age of 32. Over the next 50-odd years he practised or taught motor mechanics, building maintenance, construction, irrigation and pastoral care of refugees. Nearly thirty of those years were given to Africa, especially Zambia and Malawi.

Martin was strong as an ox, but he suffered enough sicknesses to fill a text book. His multiple health problems, touching all his senses and most parts of his sturdy body, involved treatment in four hospitals. He made full use of medical help, and carried his oxygen supply with care as he walked the pavements round Gardiner Street. He would not let medical problems absorb his energy.

At the age of 73 he embarked on a 5-year course in theology with the Tallaght Dominicans. He worked his way right up to the last assignment, on “The Just Society”, at which he balked. Why? they asked. “Because I never lived in a just society, and do not know what it is like.” Dear Martin was a strong and distinctive presence in the Irish Jesuits, a model for anyone who with God’s help has to fight sickness. “Death, be not proud.”