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Fr. John Murphy was born at Tincurry in the Parish of Ferns, County Wexford.
He studied in Spain, and returned to Ireland in 1785 when he became curate at Boolavogue. In 1797, many Catholic clergymen swore allegiance (or loyalty) to the British Crown.

They encouraged local people to give up their weapons, and in return, receive”protections” from the government. However many people had to leave their homes toavoid persecution by the Yeomanry.This is said to have driven Fr. Murphy into the rebellion.

On 27th May, Fr. Murphy led a large group of pike-men and defeated a party of government troops at Oulart, the next day he took Camolin and Enniscorthy, andencamped on Vinegar Hill. After defeats at Arklow and Vinegar Hill, Fr. Murphy joined a rebel group that passed through Scollagh Gap. They crossed the river Barrow and were defeated at Kilcumney.

Fr. Murphy went to Tullow where he was arrested. He was executed there with James Gallagher on 2nd July.