Maura Murphy was born in Clonmore, County Offaly in 1928. She left school when she was 14 with 'no qualifications and fewer prospects'. She worked as a domestic servant in various houses in Dublin until she met and married John Murphy, a soldier stationed at Portobello Barracks. The couple moved to Birmingham, England in 1959 where they reared nine children. They have eleven grandchildren and one great-grandchild.