Irish playwright, born in Tuam, Co. Galway. When Murphy submitted his first full‐length play, the ferocious A Whistle in the Dark (1961), to the Abbey Theatre, he was told that such people as the violent family of the play did not exist in Ireland. Since then, he has continued to create the kind of characters that are not supposed to exist. Angry and hilarious portraits of small‐town hypocrisy make up a realistic strain of social drama in A Crucial Week in the Life of a Grocer's Assistant (1969) and Conversations on a Homecoming (1985). But the work that places Murphy in the front rank of modern dramatists fuses this realism with baroque dialogue, surreal comedy, and a yearning for transcendence. In at least two plays, The Gigli Concert (1983) and Bailegangaire (1985), Murphy's ambition is vividly fulfilled. Later plays include The Wake (1997), The House (2000), and The Alice Trilogy (2005).