Friends Matt Murphy and Michael O’Sullivan, the friends who married for tax reasons, made a return trip to Matt’s ancestral home in 2018
Reverend Gerald Field was chief celebrant at the funeral of Matthew Murphy in the Church of St John the Baptist, John Street, Cashel, on Friday.
The Service took place adjacent to Agar’s Lane, where Mattie’s mother Margaret lived in a house he bought for her from the 1960s onwards.
Matthew and his friend, Michael O’Sullivan, made headlines in 2018 when they availed of Ireland’s new equal marriage laws to lawfully avoid paying inheritance tax.
Mourners included relatives from Noan, Ballinure, where Mattie spent many of his formative years, friends from the Brú Ború heritage centre in Cashel, where Mattie loved to dance, and supporters of the NCBI, a cause close to Mattie’s heart.
His mother’s family was connected with the family that owned the Noan estate, in Ballinure. That family established the NCBI and its sister organisation in England.
Speaking on behalf of friends and relatives were Petronelle Clifton Brown, his cousin John Murphy, and Mattie’s husband, Michael O’Sullivan.
Mrs Brown is prominent in Cashel’s Church of Ireland community and annual Arts Festival. She spoke lovingly of Mattie’s early years at Noan house. “We had grown up together. Mattie was always punctual, immaculate. He put us all to shame.”
Mattie went to the local national school before attending a secondary school in Belfast. “But Mattie didn’t like being away from home, so that didn’t last terribly long. He became an absolutely central part of the house in Noan.”
Noan was “full of visitors from all over the world.” Mattie kept the cutlery and silverware beautifully polished, and it wasn’t a surprise that he became an actor later in life, with his “beautiful voice”.
“He always wore a jacket in the morning, to make sure everything was spick and span,” said Mrs Brown. His mother believed he should have a chance at another life, and encouraged him to go to Dublin, where he joined the then P&T, now Eircom, as a telephone operator.
John Murphy said Mattie never forgot a birthday, and always loved to chat. “What a special man he was. He was a generous, kind and gentle man” who always stayed close to his family, including his cousins in Northern Ireland.
Michael O’Sullivan recalled Mattie’s time in Eircom, when the equipment was always breaking down. “If you needed anything you went to Mattie.” Telephone operators would always get blamed if something went wrong. To put the record straight, Mattie once rang the late Marian Finucane on Liveline, disguising his voice.
Mattie looked after his elderly relatives in their old age. He loved comedy and was a great letter writer. Michael said his friendship with Mattie had transformed his life, and they made so many friends together sitting outside their favourite coffee shop in Dublin.
“He was a most wonderful person.” Michael sang a farewell song to his late friend, and husband. “He once said he came in on a cloud, and went out on a bang, and he really did.”
Mattie’s friend, Séan O’Duibhir of O’Dwyers Pharmacy, said he was the “essence of gentility.”
The Service concluded with an uplifting rendition of Mattie’s favourite song, Tipperary’s anthem Sliabh na mBan, led by Nora Butler of the Brú Ború heritage centre, and accompanied by John Gehan.