Peter Murphy: My father, Bishop Casey, and me
In 1992 The Irish Times revealed bishop of Galway Eamon Casey had a son with Annie Murphy. Now 38, he tells the story of his relationship with his father
Mother and son: Annie and Peter Murphy. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh
Telling his story: Peter Murphy with Donal McIntyre of TV3
Media scrum: Eamon Casey speaks to reporters in 1994. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh
Revelation: Annie Murphy on The Late Late Show in 1993. Photograph: RTÉ
Peter Murphy is a big guy. Relaxed, affable, with no chips. He is, he says, “a fat single white guy, with a cat . . . I’m basically any comedian’s wet dream.” Currently he works near Boston “in consumer electronics. I sell televisions”.
He spent three years at the University of Connecticut (UConn). “ I did more drinking than I did studying,” he says.
He was a “typical jackass American of that age. I didn’t know what I wanted to be so I changed majors every three months and I majored in having fun. I loved UConn . . . In what would have been my junior year I moved to Boston.”
Then he went to Emerson College. “It’s an arts school. I never went to a lot of the classes. I hated structured academia.”
His father got him his first job. “To get myself through school, to make a living, Eamon, through the Irish Immigration Centre, got me a job at a hotel and I got a job in a bar called the Last Hurrah . . . It got me into the restaurant industry.”
He worked in restaurants until 2003 when, through a love of film, he began working at the Tweeter chain of consumer electronic shops. It went out of business in 2008, after which he started his present line of work “selling high-end electronics, 100 per cent commission”.
Now aged 38, Murphy first became aware of his father as a small boy.
“I was five or six. My grandmother told me. I don’t remember the instant when she told me. My mom always had this newspaper article with a picture of Eamon blowing on some brass instrument, a trumpet . . .”
One morning in 1983 or 1984 his mother, Annie, woke him, saying, “ ‘Listen, wake up. Do you want to see your father?’ And I said, ‘What do you mean? I’ve seen the photo.’ ‘No,’ she said, ‘do you want to see him?’
“Then she brought me downstairs . . . I remember coming down the stairwell and [on the television screen] I could see [President Ronald] Reagan on the one side and I could tell there was another person on the other . . . and I recognised him right away. It was, what do you call it? An epiphany. It was some Sunday-morning political show.”
He was 15 years old before he met his father for the first time. It was “in the law offices of the attorney Peter McKay, who represented the paternity suit my mom made . . . in New York. That was the first time I met Eamon.”
It did not go well. “He didn’t want to talk to me. In hindsight I was the representation of the end of everything he worked for. Of course I took it incredibly personally. I ran down. Got the elevator. Came downstairs. Tried to keep a stoic face. Saw my mom and burst into tears . . . You’re 15, have questions. He didn’t want to answer them. I felt slighted.”
The purpose of the meeting was “to get something back for the years that my mom had to, basically, pay for me. For me the most important thing was meeting him. When you’re 15, you don’t understand. So, it was what it was.”