In a graveyard near MB’s HX homeland stands a headstone with the following inscription:
John Murphy died this
11th day of October 1784
aged 219 years
May the Lord have mercy on his soul
MB wrote of 219 year old John Murphy a few years back, before MB’s HX Blog went all awesome on a real blog site. A few days ago MB happened across a photo of the headstone and decided to discuss the subject again with his by-now far greater number of followers.
Firstly, let’s take a look at the headstone:
There is no doubting the photo (double click on it for a closer look if you wish). MB took it himself a few years back one Summer evening. A local rubbed some grass onto the face of the stone just to make the inscription more easily readable and better for MB to take the shot. That’s an old Irish-Indian trick MB & other locals use back home in HX, and you are all free to use it in your future lives should you ever encounter any gravestone-reading difficulties.
Last year that particular grave featured on the local newspapers back home as part of a larger piece on the entire St John’s Protestant Church and graveyard in Knockainey village, which is only a few miles from HX. The graveyard unusually includes sections for both Protestants & Catholics. Presumably the Catholics were workers on the English Protestant owned farming estates that existed in the locality back in the days. There is a whole host of other historically fascinating structures and graves in the same venue and MB may return to that bigger picture at another time. But not today.
So let’s get back to one John Murphy, who died aged 219 years old on 11 October 1784.
When MB wrote of JM in the past he proposed a number of theories that might explain how a man, who lived in the 16th century in a small village in South West Ireland, could live to 219 years of age. MB mentioned previously also that normally grim-faced Protestant Ministers were not known for any great sense of humour, so the inscription was obviously not a joke. Hence MB excluded the joke theory from his musings.
Possible theories espoused previously by MB included:
Theory Nr 1
John Murphy was some alien creature from a distant planet where the more advanced genes of the inhabitants allow them to live longer than Earthlings. Murphy was possibly living on planet Earth much like an anthropologist might go live in the jungle to study primitive tribes. And on 11 October 1784 his days were finally numbered and he just passed away peacefully. God rest him.
Theory Nr 2
John Murphy was a vampire who managed to live quietly amongst the villagers and not attract any adverse attention to his vampirish ways for most of his very long life. Presumable he dined in HX, and other areas further afield in the dark of night and managed to return to his peaceful daytime abode before sunrise. Then in the latter half of September or early October 1784 he made some fatal mistake, exposed his true identity, and the angry villagers managed to subdue him while they drove a timber stake through his vampire heart. Killing him dead – forever. On 11 October 1784.
Theory Nr 3
John Murphy discovered the elixir of life around the HX countryside in the 16th century and lived to a very ripe old age. Dying as he did, after 219 years of healthy living. On 11 October 1784.
The HX countryside is awash with plants, trees, rivers and a glorious crescent shaped lake to this day. Murphy just might have been some sort of medical quack selling herbal potions to enhance health or baby-making abilities to the locals. And managed to stumble across the ultimate cure for everything, even old age. Presumably the ingredients were in short supply as there are no other gravestones in existence that exhibit anything like the longevity of Murphy. If Theory Nr 3 is correct then in all probability Murphy kept the potion a secret, and only for personal use. And lived a super-healthy life from the years 1563 to 1784. Possibly marrying many times and producing numerous offspring.
It has often been commented to MB that he looks far far younger than his age, so maybe there is some element of truth in Theory Nr 3. The HX air, water or something in the soil that grows the local HX crops and vegetables may contain the magic formula. It’s a possibility we should not discount. It’s even possible that MB may be some far distant relative of the long deceased Murphy. Incidentally, father of MB was born on a farm which was, and still is, in the family for many generations, mere yards from that graveyard. So perhaps….
But MB wishes to update HX followers on the above, which MB wrote about a few years back.
MB was home last Summer drinking fine Irish whiskey late one night with an elderly man from the HX village. MB mentioned the grave of John Murphy and asked the villager if he had any explanation for the long life of Murphy. To MB’s amazement the villager confirmed that he was a keeper of the secret. And was fully aware of how John Murphy lies in a grave with a headstone that gives evidence to his 219 years. Dying as he did on 11 October 1784.
“And are you willing to become a keeper MB?” asked the villager of MB, whom he had known most of his life and also knowing full well that MB is of noble and honourable stock and was eminently suitable to assume such a position. “Yes” replied MB humbly. And with thoughts of his own demise in the not-too-distant future, the villager there & then imparted the secret of John Murphy’s grave to the trustworthy & honourable MB, as both drained their glasses and called for refills.
MB is not sure if other keepers exist. That is unimportant to MB. MB will reveal the secret when the time is right to a kindred soul. If the Lord spares him the health. One who is honourable and noble. One who knows how to keep a secret.
St John’s Church & Graveyard, Knockainey, County Limerick: