Gerard Murphy was born in Cobh, Co. Cork. His father, James, came originally from Kilmacow, Co. Kilkenny and his mother was from Cobh. He has a clear memory of Eamon de Valera’s visit to Cobh and Spike Island to witness the lowering of the British flag on Irish soil for the last time and the raising of the tricolour in July 1938. His father had gained employment in the city when the Ford factory opened in Cork in 1917 and he later opened his own business, Clarke and Murphy’s, repairing machinery in Lynch’s Street, off Washington Street, in Cork. Gerard discusses his early apprenticeship in engineering with his father’s company, with his two brothers and sister. The three siblings eventually took over the running of Murphy & Sons Ltd., and he details the roles and responsibilities of each. The company grew and expanded, opening premises in Peters Street and Victoria Cross, which were later sold when the company relocated to the old ESB premises on the Mallow Road. The company was involved in steel construction work, importing steel from England and employing 90 workers, and, at the time, was the main contender in the steel construction of public buildings. Murphy & Sons Ltd were awarded contracts to work on Ballymun housing, Cork Airport, Ashford Castle, Shandon Bells and schools, hospitals and churches around the country.
The company was adversely affected by the downturn in the economy in the 1980s, and Gerard discusses the appointment of a Receiver and the difficult months which followed. He explains that he got “a lucky break” when he was appointed Project Manager to rebuild Sacred Heart Secondary School in Cork, which had been damaged by fire. There he saw the flooring being fitted and,afterwards, he started a new business called Experto Flooring; this is now flourishing and is run by his five children.