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Memorial for Irish planter who brought rubber to India

Press Trust of India  |  Thiruvananthapuram 

The memorial is to come up at a church cemetery at Yendayar village near Mundakkayam in Kottayam district where Murphy was laid to rest in 1957.

As part of the plan, Rubber Board has taken 2.5 cents of land of the cemetery on lease from St Joseph Church in the hamlet. The church management had handed over the document of the land to Rubber Board Chairperson Sheela Thomas earlier this week.

According to historians, John Joseph Murphy came to India at a young age and set up the country's first commercial rubber plantation at Thattekkad near Kothamangalam in 1902.

Murphy realised the immense potential of the undulated lands of the High Range areas of Kerala for rubber cultivation at a time when it had not been cultivated on commercial scale anywhere in the country.

The demand for rubber shot up during the Second World War period, which prompted both western and local cultivators, to turn to its commercial cultivation, which made Kerala the country's largest producer of natural rubber.

Though there are schools and clubs named after Murphy in the state's high range, it is the first time that a formal memorial is being set up in his name, Rubber Production Commissioner, J Thomas, said.

"The cemetery that includes Murphy's tomb is in a bad shape now.

Considering the significance of the spot, we have decided to set up a memorial at the cemetery itself. Local people and the owners of the adjoining plantations have also expressed interest to co-operate with our project," Thomas told PTI.

He said though Murphy first tried his luck in cardamom at Munnar, he shifted to rubber realising its potential as an industrial raw material of the future. Besides investing his personal savings in expanding rubber cultivation,the Irish planter also brought in innovations to promote plantations.

A great admirer of lush greenery and cool weather of the High Range, Murphy had continued his stay in Kerala even after India's independence.

'Murphy sayipp', as he was known among locals, died on May 9, 1957 and he wanted to be laid to rest at the same cemetery where many of his plantation workers had been buried.

First Published: Thu, September 30 2010. 17:25 IST