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John O'Murphy Photo by: Handout

In Focus - John O Murphy - Wexford native, president of the Manhattan Gaels and New York lawyer

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John O'Murphy Photo by: Handout

Background: Originally from Co. Wexford, John O. Murphy is the president of New York’s newest GAA club, the Manhattan Gaels.  He is also a lawyer with his own firm.

Where are you from?

“Ramsgrange, Co. Wexford, five minutes from the Kennedy homestead in Dunganstown. I wish I could have been there for 50th anniversary of the JFK visit last week!”

When did you move to the US?

“I came in 1993 on a scholarship to Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pennsylvania. They've had a fantastic Irish program for over 20 years. I got my degree in history, edited the school newspaper, played some soccer and had a thoroughly rich undergrad experience, although it was very cold in winter!”

You studied law in Notre Dame and now head John Murphy & Associates law firm. Was this the dream when you first came here fresh out of high school in Ireland?

“Not a notion! Being ninth of 11 kids from a farm in Co. Wexford, I was thrilled to have a chance at making a future in the U.S. But it has been the innumerable helping hands along the way - including many in our Irish and Irish American community - that have gotten me to the point of opening up my own law firm. I have benefited from the support of so many folks. I am the luckiest man going!”

Where did the idea for the Manhattan Gaels come from?

“Since I helped start Irish Network NYC (IN-NYC) in the mid 2000s a few of us talked about how difficult it was to make training in the Bronx and how it would be great to have a team in Manhattan. The arrival of Peter Ryan to the Irish Consulate and the involvement of the likes of Greg McIntyre, John Riordan and Ryan Canavan really got the Gaels off the ground in 2012.” 

How has interest been so far?

“There has been a massive interest with 30-plus at trainings on Randall's Island since the dead of winter, and the numbers keep growing! Women's team players are also growing. The Gaels have helped bring a lot of former GAA players back to the game, and welcomed many Americans who are picking up the game for the first time.”

“Trainings are every Tuesday at 7pm on Randall's Island and in addition, we have regular social get-togethers. There's talk of a youth program. Full information is on our site at  manhattangaels.com.”

If you were trying to convince someone to join Manhattan Gaels, what would your pitch be?

“Even though we are a relatively young club, and even though I know this sounds a bit cheesy, we are already like a family that welcomes with open arms anyone who wants to have fun in experiencing the thrill that are Ireland's native games, not just Gaelic football, but also hurling, handball and rounders, all of which we are getting going.”

Interview by Molly Muldoon

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