st oliver plunkett

Oliver Plunkett

was born 1st November 1625

in Loughcrew, Oldcastle, County Meath.

His family was closely related to the Earls of Fingal.

Having studied at the Irish College in Rome from 1647, he was ordained priest in 1654.

He remained in Rome where he taught theology and at the same time acted as representative of the Irish Bishops.

He was appointed to the See of Armagh

which became vacant in 1669.

Later he was appointed Archbishop of Ghent.

(above) Oliver Plunkett. Painting by Edward Luttrell 1681

He returned to Ireland in 1670 and worked in his diocese in comparative freedom for three years. Due to renewed persecution he was forced to go into hiding from 1673 until his arrest in 1679.

In December 1679 he was lodged in Dublin Castle on a charge of conspiring to bring about an armed rebellion. Having failed to secure a conviction in Ireland, the authorities removed him to London where he was tried, found guilty of treason and executed at Tyburn on 1st July 1681.

Devotion to the Archbishop grew and his name was listed with a large number of martyrs from England and Wales, but Pope Leo X111 authorised that his cause be treated separately. Beatification took place on 23rd May 1920 and on 12th October 1975 he was canonised a saint of the Catholic Church.

The head of St. Oliver is now enshrined in St. Peter's Church, Drogheda and the other remains are interred at the Benedictine Abbey, Downside, Somerset.