Jack the Clerk

Last week I was browsing photos from the (now) high resolution Lawrence Collection and I was wondering about the identity of a man who appears in one photo outside the front door of Millstreet Church in the early 1900’s (soon after the death of Canon Griffin in 1899, and before his headstone was erected):

1900s Jack 'the Clerk' Murphy in front of Millstreet Church[full photo here]

… then I noticed that he’s also in the Lawrence photo of the Presbtry:

1900s Jack 'the Clerk' Murphy seated outside Millstreet Presbytery [full photo of the Presbytery here]

A similar Lawrence photo was made into a postcard

… so I was thinking maybe he was a priest, but then the other day I just noticed him by accident in a 1912 photo of Millstreet people in Picture Millstreet (front row, second from left), and he’s named as John Murphy, Parish Clerk from the West End, better known locally as Jack the Clerk.

millstreet people from 1912 - from Picture Millstreet[full 1912 photo of Millstreet people]

John M. Murphy (Jack the Clerk) was born in 1873 to Michael and Hannah (Buckley). He served as the Parish Clerk for many years, living at #3 West End across from the Church.

While not a man of many riches, he was well thought of by everyone. It is said that he was a very mild mannered man although nobody’s fool !

He married Catherine (Lily) Hegarty O’Shaughnessy (granddaughter of Jeremiah Hegarty), eleven years his junior on Valentines Day 1914. After their marriage Jack and Lily moved in with John’s mother Johanna and his sister Norah (seen in the 1912 photo above) at 3 West End, and on the 1st June 1915 their first child Johanna (Jo) was born. She was the first of seven children Joanne, Ellie, Michael, Mary, Margaret, John Gerard and Noreen Gertrude. Jo, the oldest was the last to pass away in 1996. All but Ellie spread their wings and spread around the world. Ellie would be well known to many of us as she had the shop at the home place across from the church (with her sister Margaret until 1957). Ellie passed away in 1989.

Jack’s wife Lily died suddenly in 1939. His son Michael was killed in a car accident in Singapore in 1956, and this had a bad effect on him and Jack the Clerk passed away 7th October 1957. May he rest in peace.

It would be nice to know the years he served as Parish Clerk. (He started at least before 1900 (#ref p.25) as it is listed in the census, and at least up to 1928 (#ref), 1954(#ref)


Just a piece of my own, growing up I only ever knew Ellie her as Ellie Clerk, thinking that was her real name! I used to wrangle a few pence from my dad after mass every Sunday to get some sweets, which would last much of the week. The little things that kept us happy as children 🙂


1911 Census

1901 Census

Baptism (needs confirmation)

Where are the Clerk’s buried?



“I remember Johnny the Clerk when I was in school in the 1960s. Lived in West End. The job clearly continued in the family” – Ann Lane on twitter


6 thoughts on “Jack the Clerk”

  1. He was still a parish clerk in march of 1954 the year and month I was born in those days a baby was christened almost immediately after being born within 3 days the mother could not attend as she had to be church-ed my maternal grandmother took me to the church to be baptized i was to be called Nora Anne. When my grandmother returned home with me she said to my mother here’s Hanora Anne for you the parish clerk (Jack the Clerk) on filling in the register said there was no such name as Nora that it was Hanora and therein I acquired the name Hanora Thanks be to God I ended up being called Anne.

  2. Johnny was his son and he sold insurance he lived in the shop with Ellie and married late in life.

    1. yes Anne, after he returned from a stint working in England he sold insurance, but when his father passed away he did also take over the job of Parish Clerk (confirmed by the family)

  3. In fact the beautiful illuminated Papal Scroll awarded to John Murphy for his magnificent dedication as Parish Clerk over many decades (and to which Jack Lane referred) is in Millstreet Museum.

  4. I was almost 15 years old when Jack (RIP) died. It must have been during my lunch break from school when I went into the house to say a prayer for his soul. His coffin was still open and, as the moment drew near for it to be closed and brought to the church, Ellie (RIP) was lovingly fussing around the body. She gently fluffed up the pillow and half talking to herself, explained that she wanted to make him “nice and comfy”. It was a very gentle thought and a serious show of love and respect for her deceased father.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.