History of the House / 1945 to 1949 - William Martin Murphy

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See also: The Martin-Murphy years

Earlscliffe Residents 1945 to 1949

In 1945 Earlscliffe was purchased by William and Norah Martin Murphy. [1]

William Martin Murphy

Family History

Murphy Family Tree
Murphy family tree

William Martin Murphy was born in 1915 to Christopher Joseph Murphy and was named after his grandfather William Martin Murphy.

Grandfather, William Martin Murphy in 1911
Grandfather, William Martin Murphy in 1911, four years before his grandson was born.

The grandfather, born in Castletownbere, Co. Cork in 1844 had been the Chairman of the Dublin Tram and Railway Company and also one-time owner of Clery's on O'Connell Street and the Imperial Hotel. He also controlled the Irish Independent, Evening Herald and Irish Catholic newspapers. However, it was the grandfather's opposition to the trade unions led by James Larkin and the subsequent Dublin Lockout of 1913 that brought him to many people's attention. [2]

William, the grandson who owned Earlscliffe, was born four years before his grandfather died. He was educated at St Gerard's College, Bray and Ampleforth College, York. [4] He became a Barrister and was also a former director of Independent Newspapers.[3]


William Martin Murphy married Norah Roantree at St. Michael's Church, Dun Laoghaire on the 22nd Sept 1936.

Norah was born on 26th May 1917 to William and Irene Roantree. [6]


William had a variety of jobs over the course of his life. In his early days he was a talent scout for Rank Films and later Editor of Irish Bloodstock Magazine and promotion and publicity manager at Coras Tráchtála Teo (Irish Export Board).  [5]

Move to Earlscliffe

For a while the Martin Murphy family lived in Westminster Road in Foxrock.

In 1945 William and his wife Norah purchased Earlscliffe and moved in with their daughter, Jane, and their son, Christopher, and very soon had a second daughter, Louise.[6]

At Earlscliffe they were good friends with Dr Robert Rowan Woods (whose wife, Peggy, would subsequently buy Earlscliffe for the family in 1952). [3]

Whilst living at Earlscliffe, William became an Orchardist, spending a lot of time and energy in tending the many fruit trees in the gardens. His son, Chris, remembers him spraying the trees with a copper and brass back pack with a foot pump for pressure that caused Chris much wonder.

William also kept beehives in the apple and pear orchard and Chris remembers watching him (from a fair distance) remove the honeycombs, again with wonder.

Chris also recalls his father growing Gladioli that he seems to recall winning first prize at the Dublin Flower Show one year!

According to Chris and Louise, the whole family thoroughly enjoyed their time at Earlscliffe, but sadly they could only stay a few years.

Some memories of the Martin Murphy's time at Earlscliffe can be found here.

William and Norah sold the house at auction in March 1949 to Lily Margaret Graham Gough. [7]

In 1957 William Martin Murphy moved to London and became the Advertising Manager of The Daily Mirror in London. Subsequently he was also Advertising Manager of Radio Luxembourg. [8]. Some time after he was Media Director of Dorlands and Crawfords Advertising agency. He was also the Media Director at the UK's Mental Health Society. [6]

William Martin Murphy died on the 12th July 1981. [9]

Norah died on the 1st June 2001 in Oxford.

Further information

The telephone number for Earlscliffe in 1948 was Sutton 2. [10]

The link shows further information about the William Martin Murphy years at Earlscliffe.

• The Martin-Murphy years • 

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List of Earlscliffe Residents

1844 to 1864 - Cornelius Egan
1864 to 1878 - Bunbury McClintock
1878 to 1896 - The Knox family
1896 to 1901 - John Randal Plunkett
1901 to 1922 - John Pentland Mahaffy
1922 to 1924 - CT Ovenden
1924 to 1927 - Robert Rooney
1927 to 1930 - Dr Ella Webb
1930 to 1945 - Sir John Lumsden
1945 to 1949 - William Martin Murphy
1949 to 1950 - Lily Margaret Graham Gough
1950 to 1952 - Stanley-Clarke
1952 to 1961 - Woods
1961 to 1969 - Knowles
1969 to today - Robinson & Foley family 

Disclaimer. Parts of the data found in these history pages are derived from sources currently available on the internet. In researching the previous owners of Earlscliffe, certain assumptions have been made as to the validity and accuracy of this internet data. If you believe that some of this data is inaccurate or should not be published on this website, please contact  .


  • [1] Title deeds and other legal documents that are currently in the possession of Karen Foley
  • [2] See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Martin_Murphy
  • [3] As told by William's son, Chris Martin Murphy, in an email to David Foley, July 3rd 2008. Chris now lives in Australia and is the Managing Director and Principal for Interface and Research and Strategy.
  • [4] Irish Independent, 1th Oct 1934. page 8.
  • [5] As told by William's son, Chris Martin Murphy, in an email to David Foley, Oct 27th 2015.
  • [6] As told by William's daughter, Louise Martin Murphy, in emails to David Foley, dated June 23rd 2008 and 3rd Oct 2021. Louise now lives in Ottawa, Canada
  • [7] Irish Times, March 16 1949 pg. 4, plus copy of deeds currently in the possession of Karen Foley
  • [8] Irish Times, March 12 1959 pg12
  • [9] Irish Times, July 13, 1981 pg. 14
  • [10] Advert for Cook and Parlour maid, Irish Independent, Sept 1st 1948, page 9.

This page was last updated on 27-Jul-2023 .