After Requiem Mass celebrated with the parishioners of his last parish, St. Columba's, Annan, his body was taken for burial to Ayr where he had been brought up. The Funeral Mass in St. Margaret's, Ayr, was attended by a large number of his friends in the priesthood from different parts of the country, relatives and friends and parishioners representing the various parishes in which he had served, especially St. Columba's which he had served so well for the previous seven years.
John Murphy was born at Annbank, Ayrshire on 19th May, 1930. After receiving his early education at St. Margaret's School, Ayr, he later studied for the priesthood at St. Mary's College, Blairs, and Propaganda Fide College, Rome. He was ordained on 16th July, 1954, in St. Andrew's Cathedral, Dumfries, by the Right Reverend Joseph McGee, Bishop of Galloway. Following his ordination he was appointed assistant priest at St. Joseph's, Kilmarnock. He left there in 1958 to be assistant at St. Andrew's, Dumfries, and from there in 1962 he went to St. Peter-in-Chains, Ardrossan. It was from Ardrossan in 1963 that he left to take up his first appointment as parish priest. He was at this time appointed to St. Conal's, Kirkconnel. During his time there he won the hearts of the parishioners who belong to what is largely a mining community. Proof of his standing there and the appreciation of the community was demonstrated in the presentation made to him of a specially inscribed miner's safety lamp. This was one of his most treasured belongings.
John Murphy is remembered by many as a fine devoted priest who took his duties seriously. Often he spoke in sermons of his desire to be a priest from boyhood and of his happiness in doing what he was called upon to do as a priest. When he preached he did so briefly and interestingly, helping people in a straightforward, practical and unambiguous way. He is remembered also as a man of wide interests. During his time in Rome he came to love the city and its history. Anywhere he went he aroused a similar interest in Rome in people of all denominations by his talks on the subject. His associations with Propaganda Fide College meant that he had contact with a large group of friends all over the world.
It is difficult to think of John Murphy without thinking about golf. Indeed, until his health began to bother him seriously he was a very competent golfer and had a wide circle of friends through his interest and participation in the sport. He was also a knowledgeable and keen car-driver and caravaner. His interest in caravaning brought him into contact and kept him in touch with many friends the length and breadth of the country.
Music was another of his interests. He thoroughly enjoyed playing the accordion and the piano. Not only did he enjoy playing; he also liked to listen to a wide and varied choice of music. The annual visit of the Gretna Choral Society to St. Columba's, Annan, on the feast of the Immaculate Conception began at his invitation. This is an event which is eagerly anticipated and enjoyed by many members of the parish and the local community.
Because of the death of his father when he was young, and, with him being an only child, Father Murphy had a very close and caring relationship with his mother. When he went to Kirkconnel and Annan as parish priest, his mother went with him as his housekeeper. As the years went on and as her health failed she became dependent on him. Sadly, he only outlived her by about three months. Despite his own poor health at times, he managed the affairs of his parish well. Though he was taken away from it suddenly, he left his charge in good condition. Just before he died he had the whole interior of the church painted. The fabric of the church, the hall and the presbytery are all a credit to him and are a fitting reminder of his constant care and diligence.
His involvement and popularity went far beyond the bounds of the parish. While in Annan, he was involved in the local health board, the old people's welfare committee and the society for the mentally handicapped. Through his involvement in committees like these and through his friendship and co-operation with the ministers of the other Christian denominations he did much to create good interdenominational relationships in the town and helped to break down many barriers.
A man of serious disposition, quiet and undemonstrative, wherever he went Father John Murphy engendered friendship. Anyone's death leaves a tremendous void. With his passing many people said: "I've lost a good friend". R.I.P.