Tuesday 27 January 2015

A very different daughter

DEIRDRE Murphy was three when she first realised her dad was different from other dads. It was inside the gates of Dublin Zoo, when a busload of eagle-eyed schoolgirls recognised her father as the man on the telly. Hysterical, the school trip ran towards Mike and Deirdre and began behaving like the monkeys in the zoo.

"I got really freaked out," she recalls. "Dad told me to hold on to his leg. I was crushed by these schoolgirls. I ended up crawling under their legs and out to safety. Dad saw me standing over the gate with this look in my eye that said, 'I don't like this.'"

Deirdre had that same look in her eye years later when her parents' marriage began to fall apart, in 1991, the year that her father's working relationship with a young colleague at RTE, Anne Walsh, became perhaps more than work.

The hurtful incomprehension at the end of her parents' relationship was possibly even more painful for Dee because, unlike her older sisters Elaine and Carol, she was living in the house with Mike and Eileen "when it was happening".

"When the whole affair thing happened, when I knew about it, I was 20, going on 21," Dee says quietly. In 1995 Mike and Eileen Murphy separated. The family home in Foxrock was sold in 1997. She was without a home, her mother without the husband she had devoted her life to . . .

Her father's betrayal of her mother affected her world view, she admits. "It made me very wary of men . . . and also made me not trust a lot," she says. "I find it very hard to trust. Definitely from what happened with my mum I find it hard to trust guys. I think I probably went through a stage in my life of treating men like shit. Not any more."

How long before the anger towards your father dissipated?

"I don't think it was even anger at my dad. I think it was probably more anger at the world," she says. "It was like I was angry in general at everything that was going on. I was angry that my mum was hurt. I was angry that there was no home to go to any more."

One of the reasons she went to America to work in the early Nineties was, she says, because she "wanted to get away from it. I had been living at home when the whole thing happened. I was there. I went through it as it happened. I just wanted to get the hell out of there, to be honest. I'd had enough of it. Shit happens," she says philosophically.

Dee knows that bitterness is its own punishment and has long since let go of any anger towards her father or the world. The past is in the past now and Dee has a solid relationship with Mike Murphy.

"I certainly have no anger against my father," she says. "No animosity whatsoever. We get on very well. He spends most of the year in America. I only see him on rare occasions when we go out for dinner."

The beautiful Ms Murphy and I are having lunch in Peploes on St Stephen's Green. The proprietor, Barry Canny, has just installed a grand piano and is adamant that Dee's mother, the incomparable Eileen Murphy, come in and tinkle the ivories as a regular engagement.

Three years ago at Merv Griffin's hotel in Palm Springs, Tony Bennett joined Eileen at the piano as she performed I Left My Heart in San Francisco. Her daughter Dee, meanwhile, left her heart in Los Angeles . . .

On April 14, 2003, Dee's Irish boyfriend, Trevor Murray, died tragically young, at 33, of sudden heart failure. Their relationship of two years had only recently ended, but they had remained really close friends.

(Eileen Murphy, of course, has her own body art. Indeed, there is something of a family history where tattooing is concerned. Eileen's father, Martin Dickson, had a tat on his arm that read 'My True Love Mary'. Eileen's mother's name was Sarah. For the record, before he met Sarah, his

Her father's betrayal of her mother affected her world view. 'Definitely from what happened I find it hard to trust guys. I think I went through a stage in my life of treating men like shit'

wife and many years his junior, Martin had been married for 28 years to a woman who died childless.)

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