Ciarán Murphy (b. 1957)
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Ciarán Murphy (b. 1957)


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Bríd Foley was the aunt of Ciarán Murphy’s mother. The Foley family came originally from a townland outside Killeagh in East Cork. Bríd had several sisters and brothers, and Ciarán has established that Bríd and Nora were involved in the Rising as members of Cumann na mBan. They seem to have been primarily involved in carrying communications between Dublin and Cork. He considers it quite possible that Bríd Foley did travel with orders to Cork on Easter Sunday 1916. He believes that on her return to Dublin she was based at the College of Surgeons under Countess Markievicz of the Citizen Army. Ciarán has found Bríd Foley’s application for the military service pension, though this provides very little detail. He believes that his aunt was very republican in her beliefs. His grandmother died when his mother was a baby and her aunt Bríd took an active interest in her upbringing thereafter. His mother’s early education took place at Scoil Íde in Cork, which was run by the sisters of Tomás MacSwiney. The pupils were not allowed to sit State exams as the MacSwineys did not recognise the government of the Irish Free State. He recalls his aunt Bríd travelling to Dublin in 1966 for the 1916 commemorations there. He reads from a letter she wrote to her sister Nora from Mountjoy Prison on May 11th 1916. Another note of hers from Kilmainham Gaol and dated May 6th is also read, as is a letter she wrote to her sister Máiread, dated June 1916, from Lincoln Prison. A letter written to her by William Horan in Dublin in November 1918 is also read. Bríd had nursed him through influenza and he expresses the view that although they were of opposing views on the fight for Irish freedom, they were both fighting for the same aims. Ciarán reads from two letters written by Thomas Ashe. The first undated letter is addressed to Nora Foley, and the second, dated February 26th 1917, is also addressed to her. In this letter Ashe is writing from a prison in Sussex where he mentions that he is on the ‘gardening party’. Bríd Foley married Joe Martin who was of Anglo-Irish extraction, and Ciarán believes that Joe’s family had very little contact with him after the marriage. He was involved with United Artists and had a connection with Ardmore Studios, and he and Bríd lived in Killiney and Bray. Ciarán has a letter written by his mother in 1947 while she was staying with the couple. When Joe Martin retired, he and Bríd moved to Grattan Hill in Cork to live with her sister Gobnait, and Ciarán recalls visiting this house as a child. He explains that he has discovered very little about Nora Foley through his researches, and he mentions a photograph of a Cumann na mBan group which includes Bríd and Nora Foley. Following Ciarán mother’s death, his father kept up the connection with the Foley family. Although Ciarán knew about Bríd’s membership of Cumann na mBan and her strong love of the Irish language, there was no discussion about the level of her involvement in the Rising within the family. Ciarán reflects upon the commitment of the Foley sisters to the struggle for freedom. He believes that they had an honest belief and the best of intentions. He does not know whether or not they played any role in the Civil War. Bríd is remembered as a strong personality and of a matriarchal demeanour. Ciarán remarks on the tone of the letters from prison and on the fact that no element of complaint is evident therein.

Additional information


Disk, MP3

Audio series:

The 1916 Rising Oral History Collections


128 kbps

Download time limit:

48 hours

File size(s):

37.34 MB

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Product ID:



Bríd Foley (Interviewee’s grandaunt)

Recorded by:

Maurice O’Keeffe – Irish Life and Lore