Born at Milford House near the Mayo-Galway border in 1927, Richard Murphy spent five of his early childhood years in Ceylon, now Sri Lanka. Educated at boarding schools in Ireland and England, he won a scholarship to Oxford at 17 and studied English under C.S. Lewis.
Between 1951, when he won the AE Memorial Award, and 1980, when he moved to Dublin, he lived mostly in Connemara. During the 1960s, he sailed a Galway hooker ferrying tourists on fishing trips between Cleggan and Inishbofin. Since 1971 he has been a poet-in-residence at nine American universities.
His poetry collections published by Faber include Sailing to an Island (1963), The Battle of Aughrim (1968), High Island (1974), and The Price of Stone (1985). The Mirror Wall (Bloodaxe and Wolfhound, 1989), versions of ancient Sinhala songs from Sri Lanka, won the Poetry Book Society Translation Award in Britain. His Collected Poems came from Gallery in 2000. All these books appeared in America from publishers including Knopf, Harper & Row and Wake Forest University Press. The Kick, a memoir, was published by Granta Books to wide acclaim in 2002.
He divides his time between Dublin and Durban, South Africa, where his daughter and her family reside.