Michael J. Murphy inherited from his father and mother a highly-developed social conscience.
Both of his parents had been hired at the hiring fair in Newry when they were ten years old and the stories which he heard from them had a profound effect on him.
His mother was paid thirty shillings (£1-50) for her first six months when she was ten and in later life she said that she had a weak chest and erysipelas from continual wettings while hired with inconsiderate farmers. Her son campaigned throughout the 1930s against this ‘slave market’ which caused so much hardship for the children of the rural poor.
His father, who was a seaman and worked and travelled widely, had a big influence on him as a socialist republican. Michael senior was a personal friend of both James Connolly and Jim Larkin. One of Michael junior’s abiding passions was that he saw republicanism as being continually compromised by greed and he returned to this theme over and over again in his articles, short stories, plays and broadcasts.
His contacts with such people as Kathleen Clarke, Maud Gonne MacBride and Peadar O’Donnell were important influences on this aspect of his life.