The Michael J Murphy Winter School is the idea of commemorating the work of Michael J. Murphy in his native south Armagh began in may 1992 when An Cumann le Bealoideas Eireann (the Folklore of Ireland Society) decided to hold its annual ‘Tionol’ in Aras an Phobail, an Mullach Ban.

In may 1999 a local committee, based in the newly opened Ti Chulainn Cultural Activity Center, organised a Michael J Murphy Winter School under the title ‘The Rural Landscape in the New Millenium’ and followed up in May 2000 with the theme ‘The Literature of the Land’ in Dromintee GAA social club and Ti Chulainn.

After a lapse of a number of years, the Cuimhneamh Oral History group based in the rejuvenated Ti Chulainn Centre marked the centenary of Michael J’s birth in 1913 by re-issuing his first book ‘At Slieve Gullion’s Foot’ at a Michael J Murphy Winter School, which featured an exhibition of his outstanding photographs. It continued with a similar event in November 2014 and in November 2015 when the theme was ‘A Sense of Place’ and also saw the introduction of ‘The Michael J. Murphy short story competition’.

The Michael J. Murphy winter school has now become an essential highlight in the cultural calendar.


A short biography

Michael Joseph Murphy was born in Eden Street, Liverpool, in June 1913. His parents were Michael ‘Buck’ Murphy and Mary Campbell, both natives of the Dromintee area of South Armagh. In 1922, when he was eight and a half years old, the family returned to Dromintee.

He attended Dromintee National School and when he was just fourteen years old he left school and went to work as a farm worker with local farmers. He developed an interest in storytelling, the imaginative language and the folk beliefs of the people around Slieve Gullion. He began to write down stories and sayings; take photographs and to publish in local and provincial newspapers. He read widely and by 1938 had begun a career in broadcasting.

After the publication of his first book ‘At Slieve Gullion’s Foot’, in December 1941, he joined The Folklore Commission and went on to record what is probably the largest collection of oral tradition ever collected in the English-speaking world.

He campaigned, as a socialist republican, against the social, political and environmental problems in Ireland; published ten books; wrote six plays and scores of short stories.

He retired from The Department of Irish Folklore, University College Dublin, in 1983 and died in 1996 in Walterstown, Castlebellingham, Co. Louth. He is buried, along with his wife, Alice, in Darver cemetery.



The annual Michael J. Murphy Winter School in Ti Chulainn Cultural Activity Centre on November 15th and 16th provided a unique insight into the culture of Oriel. The overall theme of the school was ‘The Literature, Music and Songs of Oriel’. On Friday night, to a capacity appreciative audience from many parts of Ireland, Bláithin […]


The Michael J. Murphy Winter School which took place in Ti Chulainn Cultural Centre, Mullaghbane, South Armagh, on November 24th and 25th 2017 was remarkably successful in relation to the numbers of people attending and in the intellectual stimulation provided for those who were lucky enough to include it in their calendar. Proceedings began on […]

Letter Writer and Photographer

Michael J. Murphy, from his teenage years, was a prolific letter-writer and photographer. When he was nineteen years old he published an article on the harvest and Maud Gonne MacBride wrote to the young farm worker to praise the piece and to encourage him to continue writing. He corresponded throughout his life in thousands of […]

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