Castleknock College Union

Jerome (Jim) Murphy O'Connor, class '53

In Memoriam

Nov 11, 2013
Jerome (Jim) Murphy O'Connor, class '53 -

Reverend Dr Jerome Murphy-O'Connor, O.P.

The Union was saddened to hear of the passing of Jerome Murphy-O'Connor, class '53

The death has occurred of Fr. Jerome O.P. (Jim) MURPHY-O'CONNOR
Cork City, Cork

Murphy-O’Connor (Cork and Jerusalem) On 11th November 2013 Peacefully in Jerusalem, Fr. Jerome O.P (Jim). Deeply regretted by his brothers Fr. Kerry, Brian and sister Sheila (Daly), sister-in-law Beatrys, nieces and nephews, extended family and his Dominican Confreres. Funeral will take place in the grounds of the Ecole Biblique, Jerusalem on this Wednesday. There will be a Memorial Mass in St. Mary’s Popes Quay, Cork on Saturday 23rd November at 11am. 

Requiescat in Pace

Date Published: Monday 11th November 2013                              Date of Death: Monday 11th November 2013

As I passed by a news stand hailing the 800 years of Dominican presence, the jolly face of my school friend looked up at me. Jim smiled out at me on the cover of Ireland's Own with that honest good humoured infectious smile of his. Without any bending of words he was truly a mighty human being. In Castleknock College in the 50's we shared a desk and to our amusement I did his Irish exercise and he did my Latin. Out on the walks, I was a short, young fellow keeping up with a long-striding Jim Murphy O'Connor, who at an early age, he was over 6ft tall. We walked and walked and talked for hours, what about I can't remember.

In the 50's cars were scarce but Jim's father pulled up in his fine Chevrolet to Castleknock College and brought the two of us home to Cork at holiday time. Both his father and mother were truly lovely people, full of humanity and common sense - so why would Jim be otherwise? He came out to our farm, 12 miles from Cork and helped at harvest time, but straight after secondary school he entered the Dominican fold in Cork where I went to see him a few times in the parlour. Afterwards in Tallaght, Dominican HQ, we were able to have long chats. Jim was a friend to all of our family members and when my sister's husband died prematurely and left a large family, my sister. enjoyed the peace and solace of his attention at that time.

When he produced his first book on the writings of St. Paul, it left me - his schoolboy agricultural friend - somewhat in awe of its spiritual dimension. Silently Jim gave a gift of the proceeds from his first book to friends in distress. What a wonderful unselfish moment to observe. That was Jim in action; a fine representative of the Dominican spirit. As years went on Jim was based in the Bible school of Jerusalem, he went on regular international lecturing tours for the rest of his life giving lectures on the impact of St. Paul. He was welcomed in all sorts of communities, including the Mormons in America, to give his lectures. That was a fine tribute in itself.

Later on a great moment in my life was when now Professor Jerome Murphy O'Connor, Professor of the Biblical College of Jerusalem, plus our school friend Rev. Brendan Kearney SJ, together with my sister, we had a great and memorable lunch in Jurys, Ballsbridge. It went on for hours and we enjoyed every moment of it. Brendan had been in Castleknock College also in our time and he was, like Professor Jerome, equally generous to the young aspiring graduates seeking out the finer points of applied maths with his mathematical' skills and understanding. His father used to write for the Dublin Opinion under the pseudonym APK.

At one point in our discussion, Jerome, by then an authority on Israel, echoed my anger at the way the Palestinians had been treated in the establishment of the State of Israel. He agreed with the sentiment expressed by my uncle who was present in the destruction of Palestine when he said to my father "I took part in the battle of Dresden and I thought it would be the most cruel act I would ever see in my life of man against man but it was nothing compared with the cruelty of dragging the Palestinians out of their homes" and then he turned to my father and said jokingly "Charlie, I now know that Cromwell by comparison was a gentleman." These words are implanted in my mind and will never go away - Uncle Billy was later to be awarded a Knighthood for his part in struggling for peace and opposing belligerents.

Long after our school years Jim was part of my psychic struggle, he was such a humble model a charming scholarly great human being who let everyone feeling elevated. He was a man to admire and share with and without doubt deserving of better recognition in Ireland, a fine sample of a strong "man of the cloth" with no pretensions just fairness and goodness in his heart and in his work.

Those were the days in boarding school where the Vincentians nurtured decency and common sense in all students at Castleknock. We are bound to ask is todays mankind progressing after all. "Will we ever see their likes again."

Ar Son Eireann.

Michael MacDonald

- Old School Pal