I am deeply saddened at the announcement today of the death of Tom Murphy RIP, one of the greatest playwrights to emerge from the West of Ireland.
The people of Tuam were immensely proud of Tom Murphy. At the heart of Tom’s work were the themes of emigration and displacement which continue to resonate here in his native Tuam as well as with generations who grew up with Tom and experienced a very different Ireland to what we know today. Tom gave voice to the dispossessed, the outsider, the underdog, the anti-hero. There was a searing honesty in his work. He cast a critical eye on Irish society, on the scourge of emigration, but his tone was always one of deep compassion for the individual. Many of his unsung heroes were women. Whilst Tom’s plays have been performed all over the world and express the harsh realities of family experiences, Tom never lost touch with his roots in Tuam and his voice is forever a voice of and for the West.
In particular I wish to pay tribute to Tom’s contribution, in the early 1970s, to the work of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL). ICEL is a commission of Catholic Bishops’ Conferences in countries where English is used in the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy. As a literary person Tom was invited by ICEL to help in the work of preparation of the translation of Latin texts of the Missal for use at Mass.
My prayers today are with his wife Jane and to Mary, Bennan, Johnny, Nell and their extended family and to Tom’s wide circle of friends.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dilis.
- Archbishop Michael Neary is Archbishop of Tuam.
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