Gentleman Joe Murphy from Cork, who for many years was the Irish Echo sales director before moving to start the Irish Voice with me at the end of November 1987, has passed.
He played a major role in ensuring the success of the Irish Voice, the first new Irish American newspaper in New York since 1928.
The day I hired Joe Murphy I knew our new newspaper would be taken seriously. Very few in the community had earned respect as much as Joe Murphy.
Joe was one of the most popular men in the Irish community. His “Out and About” column in the Voice chronicling the social events of the era meant no grand occasion was complete without Joe’s presence, along with a photographer.
During his half-century of covering the community, Joe got to know and befriend thousands of Irish. He and his lovely wife Judy were welcome guests everywhere, from Irish Consulate events to Bronx fundraisers.
Joe could always be found away from the limelight, a quiet presence, taking in the room and ensuring everyone who needed to was included in his diary of the event. Joe himself shunned the limelight, preferring to tell the stories of others.
Joe was a superb salesman of the old fashioned school. His word was his bond in an era before insertion orders and hi-tech billing. Joe would arrive back in the office with a perfect note of what size ad had been agreed. There was never a dispute.
He was a wonderful mentor to young members of staff, becoming almost a father figure to some with his sharp insights and wisdom.
He was also incredibly kind-hearted, especially towards young natives of his beloved Cork, many of whom he secured employment for.
He was an outspoken advocate for legalizing the undocumented Irish who were left with no other option but to live illegally after the 1965 Immigration Act that slowed legal immigration from Ireland to a trickle. He was very proud in the earlier days that the Cork Association led the fight from the front, and the Irish Immigration Reform Movement was founded on its premises.
”Joe was mentor, confidante and true friend to the Irish and indeed my family,” said former Cork Association president and AOH immigration director Dan Dennehy.
“He possessed charm, wit and an encyclopedic knowledge of the issues, and he selflessly shared it all with so many.”
Joe was an avid Cork hurling and football fan and was on first name terms with famous hurlers such as Jack Lynch, who became taoiseach, and football legend Billy Morgan. Cork teams knew to seek out Joe in New York for the latest news on what was going on in Irish America.
Joe did a tremendous amount of work on the Cork Club in Long Island City and was known widely for pitching in for fundraisers and charitable events. And it should go without saying that Joe was an avid supporter of the Irish peace process and the reunification of Ireland.
Among his proudest professional achievements was selling out the 1989 St. Patrick’s Day Irish Voice issue, the largest ever Irish American paper at 168 pages. We will never see its likes again.
It was the year of the first female grand marshal of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade, Dorothy Hayden Cudahy, and Joe worked night and day to make the occasion a huge success.
A man of simple faith and humility, Joe Murphy touched many lives and always for the better.
Speaking personally, he was a key figure in helping the Irish Voice get off the ground, no easy task even back then when newspaper publishing was much easier.
May he rest in peace.
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