William Martin Murphy

William Martin Murphy (1845-1919) was a prominent businessman, newspaper magnate and politician who served as the popular antagonist during the 1913 Dublin Lockout between the employers of Dublin and the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union led by James Larkin. Born in Castletownbere, County Cork, Murphy inherited his father’s building contracting business upon his death, and quickly grew the business to a nationwide enterprise. Elected as an Irish Parliamentary MP in 1885, Murphy took the side of the Anti-Parnellites following the 1890 split. In 1900, he purchased the Irish Daily Independent, relaunching it five years later as one of the most popular newspapers in Ireland. In 1907, he organised an Irish International Exhibition in Dublin to the chagrin of many nationalists for promoting imported goods although Murphy refused a knighthood from King Edward VII for his organising of the exhibition. During the Dublin Lockout, Murphy was at the head of the Dublin employers most opposed to Larkin and the ITGWU, which made him a hate figure in Dublin and led to the nickname ‘William Murder Murphy’ being given to him by the pro-Labour press. It is worth noting however that Murphy was not necessarily opposed to trade union activity, and some nationalists, including Sinn Féin leader Arthur Griffith, also opposed Larkin during the Lockout.


Letter to the Irish Independent (1913)