Thursday 30 July 2020

Why Ireland Rejected the Reformation - a View from 1613

 In a report made to the Holy See on April 6, 1613, the Brussels Internuncio, Monsignor (later Cardinal) Guido Bentivoglio (1579-1644), provided his view of the state of Catholicism in Ireland. Monsignor John Hagan (1873-1930), rector of the Pontifical Irish College, Rome reproduced the original report in Italian, but helpfully included a summary of its main points in English. Bentivoglio reported that the Catholic population were 'nearly all openly professing their religion', that 'the English penal laws were not enforced' even if 'externally Protestantism is in the ascendancy, all the Archbishoprics and bishoprics being in the hands of the heretics.' He then goes on to give the reasons why Ireland has rejected the Reformation:
 The people have preserved the faith because naturally inclined to it; always attached to the Holy See; always hating the English;  always opposed to novelty and tenacious of old customs.  Heresy introduced by violence and against their wish...
 Hagan, J. “Miscellanea Vaticano-Hibernica, 1580-1631.” Archivium Hibernicum, vol. 3, 1914, pp. 227–365 at p.300. JSTOR,

 I think it would be fair to say that these points are still the ones discussed by historians of the Reformation today. The concept of the Irish having a 'natural inclination' to Catholicism is an interesting one, especially since today it is commonplace to hear that everything "is in our DNA". An historian, however, can make the case that an overwhelmingly rural society with few large towns or cities is indeed more naturally predisposed to conservatism, without having to reference human genetic code. In Britain the 'new learning' of the Reformation was avidly discussed in intellectual circles at universities but Ireland did not have a university of its own until 1592 when Trinity College was founded. In regards to the attachment to the Holy See, a modern historian of the Dominican order in Ireland has made this point:
Both Anglo-Irish and Gaelic Irish reverenced the papacy and perceived it positively as a force in halting the English crown's ecclesiastical encroachments. So often in fact, did they make direct appeal to Rome that they were, on occasion, bitterly castigated as Rome-runners.
Thomas S. Flynn O.P. , The Irish Dominicans 1536-1641 (Dublin, 1993), p.21

The colonial relationship between England and Ireland was also a factor as was the reality that the Reformation was linked to Anglicization and thus viewed as an alien imposition from without. As far as opposition to novelty and the holding on to old customs is concerned, it is perhaps worth reflecting that it wasn't just Protestant ministers who despaired of ever weaning the natives from their attachment to medieval religious practices and traditional customs. For Catholic missionaries returning from the Continent full of reforming Tridentine zeal made the same complaint. And finally, there is no doubt that the fact that the Reformation was accompanied by military conquest and destruction was indeed yet another factor in its rejection. There is no evidence of a demand for Reformation among the Irish themselves, so Cardinal Bentivoglio's observation that it was introduced against their wish also has merit. Overall, his analysis from four centuries ago still has a relevance to the modern debate on the reasons why Ireland rejected the Reformation.

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Monday 20 July 2020

Sufferers for the Catholic Faith in Ireland

 An overview of the Irish martyrs from 1868 today, the year in which Myles O'Reilly (1825-1880) published his Memorials of Those who Suffered for the Catholic Faith in Ireland, an important work in the nineteenth-century rediscovery of the Irish Martyrs.  O'Reilly was born in Dublin but educated outside Ireland, something he had in common with many of those he wrote about, first in England and finally taking his LL.D. in Rome. He also shared some of the exciting times of the martyrs in that he entered pontifical service at the invitation of Pope Pius IX and served as commander of the Irish Battalion of the Papal Army. In 1860 he was part of the defence of Spoletto, but was eventually forced to surrender. You can read more about this campaign and see a photograph of Major O'Reilly resplendent in his uniform at the History Ireland website here. On his return to Ireland O'Reilly was elected as M.P. for Longford and was a staunch supporter of the Father of Irish Home Rule, Isaac Butt. He was also involved with higher education and acted as examiner in classics for the Catholic University of Ireland. This background thus fitted him to research the sources recording the Irish martyrs, the majority of which were written in Latin and to translate them for a wider audience. One of those who read the Memorials is the anonymous author who contributed the piece below to the English Catholic periodical the Tablet, which was syndicated by the Pilot, a Catholic newspaper in Boston with a large Irish expatriate readership. From the way the writer speaks it is clear that he has his own knowledge of the subject. I noted that our Englishman takes a little swipe at the Home Rule policy espoused by O'Reilly in his warning that anyone who equates an independent parliament with national freedom should bear in mind that the Irish Parliament of the 1530s passed the legislation allowing the suppression of the monasteries. He also has little respect for the iconic status among his countrymen of Queen Elizabeth I, whom he refers to as 'the royal virago'!  In dealing with the case of Jesuit David Wolf he speaks warmly of the 'wisdom and charity of the Society of Jesus' which makes me think he could well be a member of the Society himself. Indeed, I am wondering if our anonymous author might be someone like Father John Morris S.J., a postulator of the cause of the English Martyrs: 

From the London Tablet.

Sufferers for the Catholic Faith in Ireland.

It has often been said that there is not an acre of Irish ground unwatered with the blood of martyrs. Yet it is probable that few of our readers, even in Ireland, have any adequate knowledge of what this amounts to, or of the vast treasures laid up for their country by the intercession of what may be fairly called an unnumbered host. Or again, how long this more than Diocletian persecution lasted. We think of Queen Elizabeth and the “flag’s War,” but are apt to forget that the seventeenth or eighteenth centuries can equally show their goodly roll of acta sanctorum. Mr. O’Reilly has done an excellent work in collecting his memorials of “Sufferers in Ireland for the Catholic Faith,” in which we find an abundant variety of name and race, as well as of religious orders and states of life. Among the sufferers are recorded bishops and archbishops, the secular clergy, Carmelites, Cistercians, Dominican and Franciscan friars, Jesuits, Vincetian and Trinitarian brothers, Tertiaries, with a crowd of devout lay folk, men and women. And all these— we may say with equal courage—professing their faith and accepting their certain doom of captivity, torture, and often most barbarous death, with the unshaken constancy, nay, with the eager joy of the martyrs under imperial Rome. Beginning in the sixteenth century with the crusade against all Catholics as “rebels,” the persecution gradually embraced every other element of animosity; or, as Mr. O’Reilly justly observes, “the differences of race, of conquest, and of government, all added their elements of bitterness to intensify and prolong those sufferings, and that shedding of blood which were singularly absent from the first conversion of Ireland.”

The first step was taken by Henry VIII. in 1535, on the death of Allen, Archbishop of Dublin, when Dr. Browne, an Augustinian friar, unhappily allowed himself to be consecrated by Cranmer, and to receive the pallium from him. He was upheld by a man still more blameworthy, the real but faithless Bishop of Meath, Dr. Staples, who had conformed to the Parliamentary opinions. It is worth while to keep these two names in mind, as a record that they were the only two Irish bishops who fell. As one of Henry’s chief aims was to possess himself of the Church wealth, the next act was the seizure of the religious houses, and in 1538 we find the faithless Irish Parliament granting the King 370 monasteries, and in 1538 all the religious houses in Ireland. Those who like to imagine that a separate representation would ensure national freedom, should study the acts and spirit of the Irish Parliament in its palmy days. It is also remarkable that as there were but two bishops who fell, there is record only of one abbot —the last of Thurles—who opposed the royal command to surrender his monastery to the commissioners. The same ruin which then came upon this country was, of course, bitterly felt in Ireland, singularly fertile in religious houses. The monks, canons regular, nuns, and brothers of the Cross, and also the four mendicant orders, Franciscans, Dominicans—”Preachers” Carmelites, and Augustinians, were all thrown houseless on the country. The famous image of Our Lady of Ath Trium, where all manner of diseases were healed, was burnt; and the still more venerated Bacul Jesu —or Staff of Jesus, preserved with the utmost care—shared the same fate.

During the too brief reign of Mary, Dr. Staples was extruded from Meath, and Dr. Walsh, a Cistercian, was consecrated Bishop. His four years’ useful rule was cut short by Elizabeth’s accession, who ordered conformity to the “Common Prayer” throughout Ireland; and, upon Bishop Walsh’s indignant refusal, the royal virago sent her commands that he should be “clapt up in prison.” Not in the luxurious cleanliness and comfort of Millbank or Coldbath Fields, but in a “subterraneous dungeon, dark and noisome,” where not a ray of light could penetrate, and this for thirteen years. There, so manacled that he bore the sears of his chains to the grave, this brave prelate made prayer his sole occupation and delight, when it is said that the abundance of Divine consolation so overwhelmed his soul that his prison cell gave him the foretaste of heaven. And wisely judging, also, that manual labor was the best alternative to prayer, the captive Bishop obtained leave for a bed of knotted or platted rope, which he untied and knotted up again till he was heartily tired. Finding that Dr. Walsh’s constancy of mind was accompanied by an inconvenient persistency of life, his persecutors resolved to condone his flight, and he was allowed to escape from Dublin Castle in a small vessel to the coast of France. He passed from Nantes and Paris to Alcala in Spain, where a noble lady, a genuine daughter of Spain, was allowed to keep him some time in her house, to nurse and tend him and dress his wounds. Thence he retired to the Cistercian monastery in the. town, and there closed that checquered life which a crowd of witnesses attested had never been stained by a mortal sin. His body lies in the Collegiate Church, where the epitaph inscribed by the Bishop of Granada may be read at this day.

Imprisonment in noisome dens was gentle discipline compared with what shortly followed. In 1565, some soldiers attacked a convent of harmless Franciscan friars in Armagh, and cruelly flogged all who refused to acknowledge the Queen as Head of the Church; and, from that day till 1798, Irish Catholics were commonly flogged to death for not renouncing their religion. The persecution spread from the simple Franciscans to the leading men in the Irish Church. In 1560, Father Wolf, a Jesuit, had been sent from Rome as Apostolic Commissary, or Nuncio, with full powers to fill up the vacant Irish Sees, an office which he discharged with great judgment and discretion. The instructions given to him, which as sent to the Cardinal Protector of Ireland were preserved in the Vatican, admirably illustrate the wisdom and charity of the Society of Jesus; a wisdom and charity which, like that of the Church, will always be ascribed to the perfection of craft, were not discerned to be the gift of the Spirit of God. The Nuncio or Legate, for such in truth he was—was to visit the chief noblemen, the bishops and the clergy, to commend their zeal and encourage them to persevere, to see that the bishops remained in their dioceses and instructed their flocks, to watch how the sacraments were administered, and the decorum of the services was maintained. And where it was possible new monasteries and grammar schools were to be opened, and some hospitals and refuges provided for the poor. No alms, under any pretence, were to be taken for these services, and “the salvation of souls alone was to be the moving spring and reward of every fatigue.” At the same time full powers were given by the Holy See to Father Wolf and Archbishop Creagh, the newly consecrated Primate of all Ireland, to create University schools throughout the island, but this was too great a good to be accomplished for many a day. Both these noble men, actively hunted as great prizes, were seized and imprisoned in Dublin Castle, and Pope Pius V. himself wrote to the Court of Spain to intercede with Elizabeth for their release. In his letter he calls the Primate “our venerable brother,” and the priest “our beloved son, David, of the Society of Jesus.” Father Wolf made his escape to Spain, but could not be satisfied without returning to Ireland, where he sickened and died in 1578.

The first Franciscan victim had suffered in 1569.  His name, which should be recorded, was Brother Daniel O’Duillian, who first also underwent that ingenious variety of cruelties for which Ireland became so renowned a field. Heavy stones were fastened to his feet, while he was hoisted to the top of a gate tower. He was then hung head downwards, and made a target for the soldiers’ bullets; but, as in the case of St. Sebastian, they were ordered to torture and wound, but to prolong life. One ruffian, more merciful than the rest, shot him through the heart, and Brother Daniel went to his reward, and, perhaps, obtained the same crown for a long array of his brethren, for the Irish Franciscans martyred seem like the stars of heaven for multitude.

The first bishop martyred was the last of Mayo, Dr. O’Hely, also a Franciscan, and, like so many Irish of that day, a student of Alcala. Scarcely had he landed, dismissed from Rome with the blessing of Gregory XIII,, when he was arrested and carried before Sir William Drury, and was at once condemned to a sentence more barbarous than any yet known. The Bishop and Father O’Rorke were racked, had their arms and legs smashed with hammers, and sharp irons thrust under their nails. Their bodies were then hung on a tree for fourteen days, and used as a target by the soldiers. As the Bishop was being led away, he summoned Sir William Drury to appear shortly before the judgment seat of God, and he died in great agony a fortnight afterwards. This incident had, however, no effect on the Government, and under Sir John Perrott, one of Elizabeth’s godsons, the horrible details of hanging with the head downward, twisting a knotted cord round the head till the skull broke, smashing the arm and legbones with hammers, and burning the soles of the feet until they were charred, equal those of pagan Rome. Whoever, therefore, is minded to study the ancient martyrologies to awaken zeal, and kindle a noble emulation to be ready to do and to bear the like, should also be familiar with the more recent memorials of those whose names should be among us household words.

Several of the longer biographies contain passages rich in interest, and should be enlarged for our lending libraries, and in some there is a pathos more tender than in the finest works of fiction. Very touching is one record of a few lines, of twenty-two old men, unnamed, burnt to death together by the soldiers in Munster in 1580. Such things turn our eyes with a fresher joy to that great approaching festival on which we contemplate the turbam magnam, quam dinumerare nemo poteratex omnibus gentibus, and behold the crowds shining upon those who have overcome.

It is a little to be regretted that Mr. O’Reilly did not create some thread of connection in his records by dividing the subject into reigns, giving with each sovereign the included time, and a list of the bishops, monks, and lay people who suffered. As it is, it is somewhat bewildering to range through the various biographies overlapping one another, and it is difficult to carry on the chronology of English events occurring at the same time, while a few words of connection would have added to the interest as well as the value of the work. However, these are trifling defects in a book which no one can lay down without feeling his heart kindled and his mind elevated in beholding the deeds of his fathers. The book from which the above facts have been taken, has just been published by the Catholic Publication Society, and is for sale by Donahoe. Price, $2.

Pilot, Volume 31, Number 50, 12 December 1868

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Thursday 16 July 2020

Edmund Mulligan, O.Cist

16th c. view of Monaghan Monastery

In County Monaghan in 1645 Cistercian monk Edmund Mulligan found himself forced to flee an advancing army. The story of his martyrdom is one of those preserved in a Latin manuscript written by confrère Malachy Hartry at Holy Cross Abbey, a Cistercian foundation in County Tipperary, which housed a famous relic of the true cross. Father Denis Murphy S.J., postulator of the cause of the Irish martyrs, published this manuscript, known as 'Hartry's Triumphalia' with an English translation in 1891. It forms the source for his entry on Father Mulligan in his 1896 book Our Martyrs. From it we learn that Father Mulligan was reputed to be 'the oldest of the Cistercian monks in Ireland' but neither his age nor his calling evoked any mercy on the part of the soldiers who caught up with him:

1645. Edmund Mulligan, O.Cist.

(From Hartry's Triumphalia, p.281)

The English and Scotch, uniting their forces for the extirpation of the Catholics throughout the province of Connaught, came into the territory of McKenna*, near Ballyeroin**, with a great army. The Catholics were forced to fly, and with them the R.F. Br. Edmund Mulligan, the oldest of the Cistercian monks in Ireland. When those who discovered him drew their swords to kill him, he cried out, "I am a priest". On hearing this they were roused to greater fury, and through hatred of his sacred office they slew him with many thrusts, and he was crowned with the palm of martyrdom in heaven, in the year of our Lord's Incarnation, 1645, in the month of July, in the seventy-second year of his age.

* Now the barony of Trough, Co. Monaghan.
** Three miles east of Clones. 
Rev. Denis Murphy S.J., Our Martyrs: A Record of those who Suffered for the Catholic Faith under the Penal Laws in Ireland, (Dublin, 1896), 301.

 Father Mulligan is number 131 on the Official List of Irish Martyrs whose causes were submitted to Rome for consideration.

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Wednesday 15 July 2020

The Miraculous Image and Shrine of the Madonna of Youghal

Yesterday we had a late nineteenth-century account of the Dominican Abbey at Youghal and the famous shrine of Our Lady of Graces it once housed. Today we have a mid-century account from one of the early volumes of The Ulster Journal of Archaeology by a native of Youghal, Rev. Samuel Hayman (1818-86). Hayman was a Church of Ireland clergyman and member of a prominent family which had come to Ireland in the early seventeenth century. Like many of his contemporaries he was a keen antiquarian and contributor to various journals. He claims that this article on the 'Madonna of Youghal' brings illustrations of the shrine into the public domain for the first time. Yet being a Protestant churchman he is also keen to try and rationalize the miraculous story of its discovery:


The Dominican Friary of Youghal was founded in the year 1268, by Thomas FitzMaurice FitzGerald, generally called nAppagh, Simiacus, or the Ape. It was originally placed under the Invocation of the Holy Cross (S. Crux,) perhaps in allusion to the Family Arms of the Founder; but, subsequently, this was changed, and the House was dedicated to St. Mary of Thanks, (S. Maria Gratiarum,) on account of a much-venerated Image and Shrine of the Madonna it had acquired. Of these we furnish drawings, carefully made for this Journal. They will be found valuable, not only as preserving to us an interesting specimen of Medieval Art, but as helping to illustrate the records of one of the old Monasteries of Ireland.

And first as to the "invention" or finding of the Relique, the story of which is sufficiently curious: "In the Dominican Convent," [i.e. at Youghal,] writes M. de la Boullaye le Gouz, the French traveller in 1644, "there was an Image of the Virgin, formerly held in the greatest veneration in Ireland, which arrived there in a miraculous manner. The tide brought a piece of wood on to the sands opposite the town, which several fishermen tried to carry off, the wood being rare in this country, but they could not move it; they harnessed ten horses to it without effect, and the refiux of the tide brought it near the Dominican convent. Two monks raised it on their Shoulders and put it in the court-yard of the convent; and the prior had in the night a vision that the image of our Lady was in this piece of wood; which was found there. So say the Catholics, who have still a great devotion towards it; but the Dominicans having been persecuted by the English settlers carried it elsewhere."

This legendary story, with but little variations, is still currently repeated at Youghal. What M. de la Boullaye le Gouz heard told in 1644, may yet he listened to at the fireside of the humbler Roman Catholic inhabitants. When divested of some of its marvel, the tale may have had its foundation in fact, as thus: -

A large piece of the wreck of a vessel having come ashore, several fishermen failed with ten horses in securing, it. The sea having broken it up, a portion was carried near the Dominican Friary, and was brought thither by two of the brethren. In this piece was found, or there was picked up at the same time, a little ivory image of the Madonna.

The image is, as we have stated, of ivory, now much worn by attrition and discoloured by age. It is, apparently, of Italian workmanship of the fifteenth century. The Virgin Mother is represented in a sitting posture, her gaze wistfully fixed on the infant Jesus, who is standing erect on her knee, and is supported by her left hand. Her head is a little inclined towards him. Worn as are the features, the expression of her face, in connection with her half-clasping right hand, is that of exquisite maternal love. She is crowned; and from her diadem descend lappets upon her shoulders. Her garments are loose, but are cinctured at the waist. The infant's dress is a simple frock or tunic. His face is directed towards his mother's. His head is bare; nor is there any appearance of a nimbus around it.

The Shrine, in which the image is kept, is of silver and once was gilt. Our engravings are of the exact size of the original, and accurately set forth all its details. It is a little box or case, about four inches in height, by two in width. The top assumes a conical shape, and is surmounted by a cross. The front opens with two folding-doors on hinges so as to admit a full sight, through a piece of glass, of the enclosed image seated on a bench. The leaves of the doors, when thus opened, display on the left hand the Crucified Redeemer, with INRI over his head, and emblems of mortality at the base of his cross, and on the right hand a saintly figure praying, invested with a "glory." The portions of the doors above these figures, and the whole back and sides of the shrine, are ornamented with incised floriated chasings, done in a free bold style of workmanship. The shrine is inscribed with the following legend, in Roman letters:_


The Lady Honor Fitzgerald, who presented this shrine to the Dominicans of Youghal, was the only child of Sir James of Desmond, who having been deeply concerned in the Geraldine revolt in Munster was slain in 1579 by the sons of Sir William Burke, and was gibbetted in the market-place of Kilmallock. She "first married" (writes Lodge,) "John Fitzgerald, Seneschal of Imokilly; and, secondly, Sir Edmond, son and heir to Sir John Fitzgerald of Cloyne and Ballymaloe, by whom she had one son, Maurice of Castle-Liffing, and three daughters, viz. Ellen, married to Dermoid, Lord Inchiquin; Mary, to Owen O'Sullivan More; and Honora, to Patrick, Lord of Kerry." The date of the shrine is engraven on it; but we consider the image to be nearly two centuries older.

The possession of this relique brought great fame to the House of Dominicans at Youghal. The image became "devotissima," most venerated, as the author of Hibernia Dominicana informs us. From every part of Ireland, the devout thronged to it for purposes of prayer; and miracles were ascribed to its agency. The monastery itself underwent a change of dedication; and was now denominated "Conventus Deiparae Gratiarum Yeoghelensis," as appears from the Register of the Order, dated 19 Feb, 1639-40. Nor was there fame only, but rich offerings were poured in. To such amount grew these treasures, that the Provincial of the Dominicans considered them too much for a single establishment, and devoted them to the general support of the Fraternity in Ireland. An appeal seems to have been made against his decision; for we find the following Order passed at a Most General Chapter, held at Rome in the year 1644, under the 56th Master of the Dominicans, Thomas Turk, of Cremona:

"Applicamus Eleemosynas omnes, quae fiunt ad devotissimam Imaginem B. Virginis Mariae de Youghel, in Usum ipsius conventusYoughellensis, nec de ijs in futurum aliter disponere valeat Provincialis."- That is,

"We apply all the Alms which are offered at the most venerated Image of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Youghal, to the use of the monastery itself, nor can the Provincial in future dispose of them in any other way,"

In the year 1698 the Monastic Orders were commanded to depart out of Ireland, never to return, on pain of death. The miraculous image of the Youghal Domincans was confided during their banishment to the keeping of Sir John Hore, a Roman Catholic gentleman, who resided at Shandon Castle, in the county Waterford. We find it in 1756, (when Bishop Burke was compiling his history) once more at Youghal, and in the possession of Thomas O'Kelly, the then prior of the Dominican community there. It was subsequently transferred to Cork, where we understand it is still preserved in the Dominican Friary, dedicated to St. Mary on Pope's Quay in that city.

The writer's obligations are due to his gifted friend, Thomas Crofton Croker, F.S.A., for much kind assistance in procuring the illustrations of the Shrine. He would offer his respectful thanks to Mrs. Collins, daughter of the Roscoe of Cork, the late James Roche. To this lady's pencil the open front view of the shrine is to be attributed. He begs to acknowledge, also, the kindness of the Rev. Mr. Russell, Superior, O.S.D., Dublin, and of the Rev. Mr. Carberry, of St. Mary's Priory, Cork, through whose permission the other drawings have been made. The whole are now, for the first time, given to the public.

Hayman, S. (1854). No. 2. The Miraculous Image and Shrine of the Madonna of Youghal. Ulster Journal of Archaeology, 2, 118-121. Retrieved June 21, 2020, from

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Tuesday 14 July 2020

Dominican Abbey of Our Lady of Thanks, Youghal

 One of the aspects of the Reformation which caused a great deal of distress both in Ireland and in England was the suppression of the monasteries and the iconoclasm which accompanied it. In some cases images were able to be hidden and preserved, even if the monasteries that once housed them eventually fell into ruins. One thing which has struck me over the past few years of reading the Victorian religious press is how the image of monastic ruins, usually windswept and with ghostly presences half-glimpsed at twilight, stands as a powerful evocation of past glories lost for people caught up in the 'Celtic Revival'.  There is a sense of rediscovery in the article below from 1895 on the Dominican Abbey at Youghal, which the writer, 'Laura Grey', feels is unknown even to the inhabitants of the town and which did not seem to form a part of the official tourist trail. I would like to know more about the author, certainly there was no lack of opportunities for female writers to contribute to the popular religious press at this time. She provides a romantic view of the story of the famous shrine of 'Our Lady of Thanks', also known as 'Our Lady of Graces' which the Abbey once housed. Tomorrow I will bring another account of the shrine, a fourteenth-century ivory plaque depicting the Madonna and Child, which was once the object of a medieval pilgrimage. For more information plus a beautiful photograph of the shrine I can do no better than recommend a post on the subject by the Medieval Pilgrimage in Medieval Ireland site here


Laura Grey.

THE sun was tinting with an amber glow the waves breaking on Youghal strand, when my friend and I strolled down the main street of the old town. That morning we had sailed up the Blackwater from Mount Melleray Abbey, and our day had been spent rambling through quaint alleys and rows of gabled houses. We had visited St. Mary's ancient church, Sir Walter Raleigh's mansion, the site of the Franciscan abbey, and our tourist's catalogue was nearly exhausted. One item still remained, and that was the ruins of the Dominican Priory. The inhabitants of Youghal seemed unconscious of its existence, yet in old histories of the County Cork I had read of its strong tower and fortified walls. Conflicting guides pursued us on all sides; some pointed one way— their opponents the other. Thrown on our own resources, we resolved to discard their services, and pilot our own footsteps. On the northern outskirts of the town we discovered a crowded burial ground, with a clump of trees standing sentinel amongst the graves. Here and there, through the foliage, peeped out a fragment of masonry, and stepping across the green mounds we found ourselves underneath the Western window of the Priory of "Our Lady of Thanks."

 All that remains of this once famous Dominican abbey are sundry broken columns, a shattered arch, and a window, yellow with lichen. One graceful cluster of pillars riveted our gaze. Twined round the capitals were lilies carved in stone, white and waxen, as if they had but left the artist's studio.   This group formed the entrance to the shrine of "Our Lady of Thanks," from which the abbey derived its title.

It was Thomas Fitzmaurice Fitzgerald, Lord Offaley, who invited the Dominicans to Youghal, and built this Priory for their reception. Hither the brethren came on August 5th, 1268, and here they flourished until the year 1581, when Elizabeth of England levelled their home to the ground, and sent them adrift.

In 1296 the founder, Lord Offaley, died, and was buried at the right-hand side of the altar. Seven years later, the abbey doors were flung open to receive the mortal remains of its munificent benefactor, Robert de Perceval.

In the year 1351, a funeral cortege might be seen wending its slow course along the avenue of yew trees, fronting the massive portals. On the bier lay the lifeless form of Maurice Fitzgibbon ("the White Knight,") and the second founder of Kilmallock Abbey, County Limerick. He was advanced in years when he took the habit of St. Dominic in his own Abbey of Kilmallock, but later on joined the Community at Youghal. On his dying bed he craved to be buried with his consort in the tomb he had erected for both in Kilmallock, and his request was granted.

Time wore on, and the once thin band of Dominicans had grown into an opulent Brotherhood. Repelling the inroads of avarice amongst men vowed to lead a life of evangelical poverty, we find the Master-General of the Order, Bartholomew de Comatio, on Irish soil, making a visitation of Youghal Abbey. In 1493 he reformed its inmates.

In the days when the Dominican Abbey at Youghal was at its zenith, there stood at the gates an Italian youth— a sculptor, seeking admittance amongst the brethren. No dowry he possessed, save his chisel and a block of Carrara marble. These he placed at the disposal of the Community, and was accepted by them as a novice, taking the name of Carthage.

 A year after he had assumed the white habit, St. Brendan's feast came round. The name of Ireland's "traveller" saint was borne by the Prior, and the brethren were vying with each other in preparing divers simple offerings to present to their spiritual Father. Brother Carthage was selected to carve a statue of the Blessed Virgin, with the Infant Christ standing on her knee. The block of marble, which had been the novice's dower, had been hewn into a stately column, and nought remained for his chisel to fashion. But one day, strolling by the seashore, a piece of bone floated in on the tide, and he carried it home in triumph, resolved to frame a statue, and paint it in glowing colors. How his design was accomplished we shall read.

"Summon hither Brother Carthage, that my unworthy blessing may rest on the soul that conceived, and the hands that modelled, yonder miracle in carving," spoke the Prior to his religious children on St. Brendan's feast. But nowhere was the artist Brother to be found. Morning ripened into day, and heavy grew the Prior's heart at the absence of the novice. The bell sounded for the mid-day repast. The brethren were all seated, when slowly up the refectory moved Brother Carthage, his back bare, and bleeding from strokes of the discipline. Advancing towards Father Brendan's chair, he knelt, with downcast eyes.

"Rise, son," was the reassuring greeting. " Nought but smiles should wreathe thy brows to-day." But the prostrate friar still wept on.

"In the virtue of holy obedience, I command thee to unloose the fountains of thy grief," continued the Prior, rising. But Brother Carthage waved him back, and pointing to the statue, said: "Into yonder piece of bone thou thinkest truly, I have breathed a soul. I shall not gainsay thy words. God be praised for having guided my chisel aright! Since I crossed this sainted threshold one sombre winter ago, I have not wilfully transgressed the rules of the brethren. Last midnight, when all had sunk to rest, a temptation fell upon me, crushing in its force. I rose to sate my vanity with a view of my handicraft — the Mother and the Son carved in bone, for thy festal day. The pale moon- beams lit up the chapter room. Hard by lay my brush and colors. I seized them. Divers last strokes were wanting, and I painted them.  A voice whispered: 'Work on' and I obeyed. A ray of starlight played on the figures whilst I flushed with nature's tints the sullen bone. Not until the Matin chime stole upon the breath of morning did I falter. Ah me! I have bartered the heritage of Blessed Dominic's trammels for a mess of pottage. Kind Father, forgive an erring son."

The Prior rose, and, casting his mantle over the kneeling novice, said: "Brother Carthage, thy humble confession has unsealed the well-springs of God's compassion towards thee. In His Most Holy Name, and in the Name of His Virgin Mother, I absolve thee from thy fault. Arise; be comforted."

The Brother stood erect, and his brethren crowded round to imprint the kiss of peace.

A year later, a costly shrine was erected to receive the image of the Blessed Virgin. In course of time the statue was deemed miraculous, and the title of "Our Lady of Thanks" was bestowed on it by the pious pilgrims who thronged the abbey. Jewels, gemmed lamps, and diamond-hilted swords hung from the walls, and flashed in the blaze of a hundred lights. But dark days were near, when the spoiler's hand would quench the flame, and wrest the votive offerings from the shrine.

 Father Carthage had grown into an aged man when the sacrilegious tocsin of Elizabeth of England rang throughout Ireland. Yesterday, the Franciscan Abbey at Youghal had fallen, and the oaken magnificence of its roof was reduced to smouldering embers; today, the "requiem" of the Dominicans would be chanted!

The Community had entoned Vespers for the last time, when the tramp of soldiery was heard in the hush of evening. In that wild hour Father Carthage thought of the statue he had carved. How he longed for the elasticity of youth to scale the walls and bear it away to a place of safety! In his distress he commissioned a younger Brother to execute the task. Seizing the relic, the novice wrapped it in his scapular, and retreated to a knot of trees. Perceiving one hollow yew standing apart, he dropped the statue down into the centre of the trunk, and fled. His life paid the penalty of his devotion. A mailed hand was laid upon his shoulder, and he was slain under the green leaves where he stood. Father Carthage meantime was ignorant of the Brother's death, and of the fate of the statue.

The shrine of "Our Lady of Thanks" had become a shapeless ruin, and the tower of the abbey from which the sweet chimes once pealed, now reeled under the roar of artillery. The trees were cut down and shipped to England. The brethren were dispersed, hiding amongst the crags, and wandering by the margin of the Black water; the devoted peasantry supplied them with the necessaries of life, craving in exchange, a Mass in some dark sea cave.

Father Carthage was one of those who survived the wreck of Youghal Abbey. Even the hirelings of Elizabeth respected his silver hairs and noble bearing. A benefactor once presented him with a gift of firewood. Amongst the brushwood was found an ancient yew tree, covered with lichen, and scarred with years. All day long the brethren strove to separate the trunk from the branches. The limbs of the aged Fathers were numb from exposure, and fuel was needed to kindle a fire. Axe and saw were alike employed in vain. Some one whispered, "Call Father Carthage to our aid. In the springtime of his youth he was wont to carve the solid rock; in the fall of his years he can surely pierce the porous rind of the yew tree."

At their summons the hoary Dominican appeared, leaning on his staff. ''This log of timber hath long lain in brine," quoth the old man, separating the fibres of the bark with his hands. "Yea, Father," answered one of his companions. "The donor hath even now told us that it was swept in yester morn by the tide."

"Give me the saw, my son," said the priest.

He pressed the sharp teeth into the sides of the tree. With a crash the hollow trunk sprang open, and lying within, wrapt in a roll of white serge, lay the long-lost statue of "Our Lady of Thanks." A layer of young wood had grown across the upper end of the aperture, sealing the trunk against the inroads of wind and rain.

The sight of the statue proved too great a joy for Father Carthage. Clasping it passionately to his breast, he leaned against one of the brethren for support, murmuring the Nunc Dimittis. They were his last words on earth. He died of an overflow of  delight. The aged heart was unable to bear the pressure of that unexpected meeting.

The Geraldines seem to have been the tutelary angels of this monastery. There are those who ascribe the safety of the miraculous statue, so dear to the faithful, to a daughter of this family, who is said to have watched her opportunity and carried it off during the days of carnage. However, we have here given the beautiful and touching legend of "Our Lady of Thanks."

We have not been able to trace the relic further through the vicissitudes of that troublous era. Its voyage across the sea to Youghal must always remain a mystery. No doubt, it had never quitted the hollow trunk in which the Dominican novice had placed it the night the abbey was stormed. The new growth of wood was clearly a miracle wrought by the Mother of God to shield her image from harm, and to gladden Father Carthage's eyes before he sank to rest.

 In the year 1644, we find the statue mentioned in a General Chapter of the Order held in Rome. At the present time the Dominican community in Cork preserve the statue under the title of " Our Lady of Youghal."

There, in these later days, a solemn Triduum was celebrated on the occasion of the consecration of two new altars, and installation of the miraculous statue. One of the altars is dedicated to the Holy Rosary, and the other to St. Dominic: both are of polished marble. The ceremony of consecration attracted great numbers of the faithful. The prelates who officiated were, the Most Rev. Dr. Browne, Bishop of Cloyne, and the Most Rev. Dr. O'Callaghan, O. P., Bishop of Cork. The Pope, at the request of Dr. O'Callaghan, granted a Plenary Indulgence to all who, after Confession and Communion, should visit the Rosary altar and pray for the intentions of his Holiness. The faithful availed them- selves of this great favor granted by the Holy Father, and during the three days of the Triduum the altar rails were crowded with communicants at all the Masses.

 On the last day of the Triduum, the ceremony of installation of the miraculous statue took place. It was borne in the procession by the Bishop, and placed in a silver shrine on the altar of the Rosary. The procession was composed of the Fathers of the community, and other distinguished ecclesiastics, the Altar-boy's Sodality, the Sodality of St. Thomas of Aquinas, consisting of about 300 young men, and the members of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary.

The statue is enclosed in a silver gilt shrine, presented by Lady Honor Fitzgerald, of the Geraldine family. It is elaborately ornamented, and bears the following inscription, in Latin: "Pray for the soul of Honor, daughter of James Fitzgerald, who caused this to be made A. D. 1617."

Many miracles are said to have been worked through the intercession of our Lady of Youghal, and the statue itself bears evident traces of the ardent devotion of the faithful. Parts of it are very much worn, owing, no doubt, to the kisses of devout pilgrims, who came, in a past century, from every part of Ireland, to visit the miraculous shrine, in the old Dominican convent of Youghal. The convent gave many martyrs to the Church, and conferred many glories on the Order.

The Rosary Magazine,  Vol VII, (November 1895), 496-502.

Monday 13 July 2020

Two Irish Capuchin Martyrs

A brief introduction to two Irish Capuchin martyrs today in this article from 1919 which appeared in the Australian press. It seems that due to the sudden death of postulator Denis Murphy, S.J. in 1896, Father Fiacre Tobin and Father John Baptist Dowdall were overlooked when the names of the 257 Irish martyrs were submitted to Rome in 1915. I have reprinted the 1915 official list here and look forward to writing more about each of these Capuchin martyrs omitted from it. The Irish Archive Resource has a good deal of information about their case here.


Their Cause Introduced.


The 'Acta' gives the full text of the decree authorising the introduction of the cause of the two Irish Capuchin martyrs, Father Fiacre Tobin, of Kilkenny and Father John Baptist Dowdall, of Ulster. The reason that those two heroes of the faith did not figure with the 257 glorious champions whose cause was introduced in 1915 was that their process was delayed, chiefly by the sudden death of their postulator in Dublin. A fuller and more complete process has since been constructed, and forwarded to the Sacred Congregation of Rites. Historical notices of both martyrs may be found in Cardinal Moran's 'Persecutions of Irish Catholics.'

Father Tobin, O.S.F.C. 

Father Fiacre Tobin was born in Kilkenny, and, at a young age, entered the Capuchin Order. He was sent to Charleville, in France, for his philosophical and theological studies. Being destined for the Irish mission, he received orders from his Superior to return to his native land in 1646. Full of the spirit of God, and well instructed in the sacred sciences, he broke the Bread of Life to his fellow-countrymen, until Cromwell came to Christianise them. He was in Kilkenny in 1650, when the city fell into the hands of the Protector. He remained to attend to the spiritual wants of the Catholics, showing heroic devotion in administering the Sacraments to the sick and dying while a plague raged amongst the population. After five months he was captured by the heretics, and cast into prison. Whilst he awaited the hour when he should be dragged forth to death, he found favour with his gaoler, and was allowed to say Mass and minister to the Catholics. Soon afterwards, at the instance of the principal Catholic citizens, he was allowed to move about freely within the limits of the city. The law of banishment against the clergy, passed in 1653, obliged him to leave the country, and fly to France. Almost immediately, however, with the consent of the Commissary-General of his Order, he returned to the island, and spent himself for two years for the glory of God and the salvation of souls. At the beginning of the year 1656 a priest-hunter deceived him into revealing himself, and he was carried in bonds to Dublin. At his trial he boldly declared that he was a Capuchin priest, who had returned to Ireland prepared to seal the testimony of his Catholic faith with' his blood, expecting no mercy from hands already dyed with martyrs' blood. It was his one desire, he said, to see them put their iniquitous law into force, and give him the privilege of dying for his faith. Lest his execution should only serve to confirm Catholics in their faith, the sentence of death passed upon him was commuted into transportation to the Barbardoes. After suffering for a month bound in a horrible prison under tho cruellest of guards, the servant of God was placed on board a vessel to be taken to his place of exile. Although suffering from fever, he was left loaded with chains and half-naked to lie on hard boards, with a piece of wood for a pillow, receiving as his only nourishment a few half-cooked peas, and bad water. The inclemency of the winter weather added to his sufferings. His ship was obliged by storms to put into port in Waterford, and there he died of the hardships he had undergone at the hands of the British heretics.

Father Dowdall, O.S.F.C. 

The other hero, John Baptist Dowdall, belonged to a noble Ulster family, but despised the honours and riches of the world to follow Christ more nearly as a humble Capuchin. Two years before his martyrdom a letter to Propaganda speaks of him as follows: The venerable Father John Dowdall has dedicated himself with heroic zeal and entire devotion to the labours of the mission during the past 40 years. His work has been crowned with marked success. He has converted many heretics to tho faith,, administered the Sacraments to several of the most eminent persons in the kingdom, and has attached all to him by the gravity of his manners. During the fierce persecution that raged against Catholics — those especially who won Protestants to the faith — during the reign of Queen Anne (1702-1714) an Act of Preventing the Further Spread of Popery made such persons liable to capital punishment. A bold missionary like Father Dowdall could not long escape. He was arrested several times, and left to pine away from hunger in a miserable prison. At last, having succeeded in converting a noblewoman to the faith, he was accused by her relatives, taken by the authorities, and transferred to a prison in London. There, worn out by hunger and cold, amidst the sufferings of his hard prison and the blasphemous insults of his gaolers, he passed to a better life, adorned with a martyr's crown, in the year 1710.

THE IRISH CAPUCHIN MARTYRS. (1919, December 25). The Catholic Press (Sydney, NSW : 1895 - 1942), p. 20. Retrieved April 25, 2020, from

Sunday 12 July 2020

Thomas Fitzgerald, O.S.F.

Father Thomas Fitzgerald who died on July 12, 1617 in prison in Dublin is one of the Irish Franciscan priests who had trained abroad in order to return to Ireland as an apostle of the Counter-Reformation.  The entry on a list of students of the Irish College at Salamanca records:
Fitzgerald (ms. Geraldinus), Thomas. Of Munster. Franciscan. Died in a Dublin prison, 1617. On the mission 1611. [1]
He may also be the Friar Thomas fitz Edmond Gerrald, preacher of the order of St Frances listed in a report on Catholic personnel in Ireland compiled around 1613, possibly for Lord Deputy Chichester. [2]

An account of his arrest in Youghal by a Captain Goar has been preserved in the diary of Richard Boyle, Earl of Cork for April, 1613. Boyle says he kept the prisoner in his own house for fifteen days before he was transferred to the custody of the Lord Lieutenant in Dublin:
21 Capn goar apprehended Thomas Fitzgerald the ffrier in yoghale, I being then at Dongarvan; and when I cam home I brought him from the goale, & kept him in my own house xv daies, till the L Deputy sent for him. [3]
Father Fitzgerald was also one of the martyrs recorded by the seventeenth-century writers and the following account, from Father Denis Murphy's 1896 collection Our Martyrs, draws on that found in the 1669 work Propugnaculum Catholicae Veritatis by Irish Franciscan Anthony Bruodin. In true hagiographical style Brudodin tells us that Father Fitzgerald was so virtuous that from childhood he was already considered a saint. He spent the years of his ministry preaching in woods and caves and administering the sacraments in private houses before being arrested and imprisoned. Finally, Father Murphy records in a footnote that the reference to 'the Bishop' at the end of Bruodin's piece is to another martyr, Bishop Conor O'Devany, who was buried in Saint James' and the account of whose martyrdom immediately precedes that of Fitzgerald:

 (From Bruodin’s Propugnaculum p, 499.)

He was descended from the very ancient family of the Earls of Desmond. From his very childhood he was so virtuous that he was considered a saint. When he was enrolled in the Seraphic Order, not only did he strengthen himself by vows in the virtues which he practised in the secular state, but he added others to them. He completed his studies in Spain, and in 1609 he taught theology in the College of St. Anthony of Padua at Louvain.  Filled with zeal for the salvation of souls, he returned to Ireland at a time when the pestilential heresy of the English was rampant everywhere. He was Commissary and Visitor of the Irish province. For many months he was unwearied in his task of feeding the Catholic people of Munster and Leinster with the word of God, at one time preaching to them in the woods and caves, at another administering the sacraments in private houses, at all times setting before them an example of every virtue, especially of charity, modesty, the token of his inward purity, religious humility, and burning zeal. When he had passed four years in this secret and hidden way, consoling the Catholics, he was seized by the heretics, taken to Dublin, and cast into an underground prison. Worn out by hardships he died there on the 12th of July, 1617. The citizens having asked for his body, celebrated his obsequies for three or four days with much devotion, to the great surprise and indignation of the heretics, who strove to prevent them. At length his remains were laid in the same cemetery as those of the Bishop. [4]


Father Fitzgerald is number 113 on the Official List of Irish Martyrs whose cause were submitted to Rome for consideration.


 [1] Fenning, H. (2009). Students of the Irish college at Salamanca, 1592–1638. Archivium Hibernicum, 62, 7-36. Retrieved July 7, 2020, from

[2] Mac Cuarta, B. (2015). Irish Government lists of Catholic personnel, c. 1613 [with index]. Archivium Hibernicum, 68, 63-102. Retrieved July 7, 2020, from

[3]  Rev. A Grosaert, ed., The Lismore Papers, First series, volume I, (1886), 21 .

[4] Rev. Denis Murphy, S.J. , Our Martyrs,  (Dublin, 1896), 257-258.

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Saturday 11 July 2020

The Martyr Primate of Ireland: Saint Oliver Plunkett

2020 marks the centenary of the beatification of Oliver Plunkett, Archbishop of Armagh, martyred on July 1 (old style dating) July 11 (new style), 1681 at Tyburn as a victim of the Irish dimension of the 'Popish Plot'. He would be canonized in 1975, the first Irishman officially declared a saint for many centuries. The fact that Saint Oliver was martyred in England had important consequences for his cause. First, it meant that an official record of the legal proceedings under which he was condemned, dubious though they were, was made and retained. Secondly, because the investigation of the cause of a martyr falls to the Bishop in whose diocese the person died, his cause came under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Westminster and was included with that of the English Martyrs. Yet if Saint Oliver had been tried for the final time in Ireland, it is almost certain that he would never have been condemned at all. For the reality was that Archbishop Plunkett was no rabble-rouser calling for rebellion against the King. On the contrary, he took a moderate line and was criticized by some at home for being too accommodating towards the authorities. In the paper below which was written in 1920 the author, Edward F. Carrigan S.J., presents The Martyr Primate of Ireland as a heroic man of great ability, a victim of both apostate Irishmen and unprincipled Englishmen as well as a pusillanimous King:

The Martyr Primate of Ireland

THERE took place recently in Rome an event of supreme interest to Catholics the world over, but of special significance to those with Irish blood flowing through their veins and throbbing around their hearts: the beatification of Oliver Plunket, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of all Ireland.

The future martyr was born at Loughcrew, in the county of Meath, just two hundred years before the passing of the Act of Catholic Emancipation, a time which the mere fact of being a Catholic was looked upon as a crime, when it was considered a treasonable act for a priest to be found in the country, and when the attendance at a Catholic school was made a pretext for the confiscation of property. His early education was received from a kinsman, Dr. Patrick Plunket, himself an undaunted confessor for the faith, who presided over the See of Ardagh. Under his guidance the younger Plunket remained until his sixteenth year, when he, together with several other Irish youths, accompanied the Italian Oratorian, Father Scarampa, to Rome and became a student at the Irish College.  After nine years of arduous study he was ordained to the priesthood, and became professor of theology in the College of the Propaganda, which position he held for twelve years. When, in 1669, the Primatial See of Armagh was made vacant by the death at Louvain of the exiled Archbishop, Dr. O'Reilly, and names were recommended as possible successors, the Pope (Clement IX.) put them all aside, saying, "Why delay in discussing the merits of others whilst we have here in Rome a native of that island, whose merits are known to all of us, and whose labors in this city have already added so many wreaths to the peerless glory of the Isle of Saints. Let Dr. Oliver Plunket be Archbishop of Armagh." It was the priest's wish to be consecrated within the Holy City, but the idea was forsaken at the suggestion of the Vatican authorities, who wished to conceal the appointment from the English Government. Dr. Plunket, therefore, journeyed to Belgium, and was consecrated on the feast of St. Andrew, 1669, "without noise and with closed doors," in the private chapel of the Bishop of Ghent.

It was in March, 1670, that he entered on his apostolate in Armagh. The Viceroy at that time was Lord Roberts, of Truro, a stern Presbyterian zealot, during whose administration the new Archbishop was obliged, in order to conceal his identity, "to go under the name of Captain Bruno (Brown), with a sword, wig and pistols." It is well-nigh impossible to conceive what fulfillment of his Primatial duties meant to the Archbishop in those days of persecution. But he was not one to quail before duty; although his position was fraught with perils and hardships, no consideration of personal risk or discomfort prevented him from a most zealous exercise of the sacred ministry. In six weeks' occupancy of his see, we are told, he confirmed ten thousand persons. "What renders this more surprising," notes his biographer, the late Cardinal Moran, "is the consideration of the many toils he had thus to undergo, for often he had to seek out their abodes in the mountains and in the woods, and often, too, were the sacraments administered under the broad canopy of heaven, both flock and pastor being alike exposed to the winds and rain." By the appointment in June, 1670, of Lord Berkeley as Lord Lieutenant the penal statutes of the Tudors and Stuarts were held in abeyance, and the Archbishop of Armagh made the most of the opportunity: he not only penetrated to every corner of his own diocese, but undertook a laborious visitation of the whole province of Ulster, preaching and exhorting in both English and Irish; he crossed overseas to the Hebrides and visited the Highlands of Scotland; he summoned provincial synods, in which many wise decrees were passed for the regulation of discipline and the good of religion; and to provide for the education of the youth in the Catholic faith he established a school at Drogheda and called the Jesuits from Rome to take charge of it.

But with Berkeley's dismissal from office in 1672 the abated storm again broke forth with all its fury: the penal laws which had fallen into desuetude were again enforced to the letter. Schools and churches were closed, rewards were offered for the capture of Bishops and priests; while the faithful were forced to fly into hiding places in woods and morasses or else be thrown into prison. No Catholic was exempt from these nefarious penal laws, least of all Dr. Oliver Plunket, the Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of all Ireland. The hardships endured by the prelate can be realized from his correspondence of this period. To the Holy See he writes:
The hut in which Dr. Brennan and myself have taken refuge is made of straw; when we lie down to rest, through the openings in the roof we can see the stars; and when it rains we are refreshed, even at the head of the bed, by each successive shower. 
And again in a letter sent to the Internuncio at Brussels we read:
The snow fell heavily, mixed with hailstones which were hard and large. A cutting north wind blew in our faces and the snow and hail beat so dreadfully in our eyes that up to the present we have hardly been able to see with them. Often we were in danger in the valleys of being lost and suffocated in the snow, till at length we arrived at the house of a reduced gentleman who had nothing to lose. But for our misfortune, he had a stranger in his house by whom he did not wish to be recognized, hence we were placed in a garret without chimney and without fire, where we have been for the past eight days. May it redound to the glory of God, the salvation of our souls and the flock entrusted to our charge. 
The "Popish plot" concocted and worked out in England by the Earl of Shaftesbury, of whom Macaulay wrote: "He was one to whose seared conscience the death of an innocent man gave no more uneasiness than the death of a partridge," was extended to Ireland with political as well as religious ends in view. Peter Talbot, the Archbishop of Dublin, who had rendered important services to the royal brothers during their exile, was thrown into prison. He was examined regarding the plot, but nothing was shown to criminate him. After two years in prison he died. It is from a letter reporting his death to the Holy See that we learn the perilous position of the Primate at this time. "I am morally certain," he wrote, "that I shall be taken, so many are in search of me; yet in spite of danger I will remain with my flock; nor will I abandon them till I am dragged to the ship."

Writs were repeatedly issued for the arrest of Dr. Plunket. It was his own zeal and charity, however, that accomplished what had proved futile by searchings and rewards. The news had reached him that his former tutor and kinsman, the aged Patrick Plunket, was dying at Dublin. Regardless of the consequences he visited Dublin and administered the rites of the Church to the dying Bishop. Here, on December 6, 1679, he was seized and cast into prison. The charge was the usual one of having received orders in the Church of Rome; but a promise of reward afterwards induced false witnesses, "strong swearers," to select Plunket for the instigator of the "plot" in Ireland. The "made-to-order" evidence for this charge is shown in an undersigned manuscript document in the London Record Office :
Coll. Fitz Patrick delivered to the Pope's Internuncio at Brussels a letter subscribed by four R. C. Bishops, two of which were Plunket, Archbishop of Armagh, and Tyrrel, Bishop of Clogher, recommending the said Fitz Patrick for the only person fit to be intrusted general of an army for establishing the R. C. religion in Ireland under the French Sovereignty.
A whole host of perjured informers were at hand to swear his life away. Among them was a trio of apostate priests, who, like their chief, John McMoyer, had been suspended by the Archbishop for their vices. Of McMoyer, Dr. Plunket states in a letter to the Internuncio that "his dissolute life was notorious, and he was always half-drunk when he appeared before the tribunals." The injustice of the whole procedure is evident from a letter of Francis Gwyn to Ormond (May 15, 1680). "Particular care," he writes, "should be taken that no Papist should be on any of the juries." The trial, however, was adjourned, because so infamous was the reputation of McMoyer and his associates that they dared not appear against the Primate in Ireland. Consequently, in the month of October, 1680, Dr. Oliver Plunket was cited to appear before the King and Parliament in London. His innocence was known to Charles, who really was a Catholic at heart, but he, sacrificed him to his abominable policy. We are told by Lingard, who is perhaps the most painstaking of all English historians, that when the Earl of Essex, a former Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, solicited the Primate's pardon, knowing the falseness of the charge, the King with indignation replied: "Then, my lord, be his blood on your conscience. You might have saved him if you would. I cannot pardon him, because I dare not."

On the 8th of June, 1681, Dr. Plunket, alone and friendless, was formally placed on trial before an English judge and English jury. The keynote of this mock-trial was struck by the opening speech of the Attorney General: "May it please your Lordship, and you gentlemen of the jury, the character this gentleman bears as Primate under a foreign and usurped jurisdiction will be a great inducement to you to give credit to that evidence we shall produce before you." Perjured witnesses attested on oath that the Archbishop was planning to raise an army of seventy thousand Irish to assist the French army in their invasion; that he had collected large sums of money for their maintenance, and that he had prepared for the French military authorities charts and plans of the Irish ports and fortifications along the seacoast. "The grim truth was," as Mr. Shane Leslie comments, "that it was the King himself who was secretly in league with King Louis, who had agreed under certain circumstances to send troops to England."

When asked to defend himself the holy Archbishop declared that it was impossible for him to do so. "Your Lordship," he said, "sees how I am dealt with: first and foremost, I have not time to bring my witnesses or my records, which if I had I would not weigh one farthing to leave my cause with any jury in the world. . . . My Lord, my life is in imminent danger, because I am brought out of my own country, where these people would not be believed against me." A fierce diatribe by the counsel for the Crown followed the Primate's words, and then the jury, having been charged bitterly against the prisoner by Chief Justice Pemberton, retired, and in fifteen minutes brought in, their verdict of Guilty.

Six days later the Archbishop was again led to the bar to hear the sentence of the law. After listening to another tirade against himself and the Catholic religion, he asked leave to speak. The request was granted, and the intrepid prelate spoke. "If I were a man," he said, "that had no care of my conscience or heaven or hell, I might have saved my life; for I was offered it by divers people here if I would confess my own guilt and accuse others. But I had rather die ten thousand deaths than wrongfully to take away one farthing of any man's goods, one day of his liberty, or one minute of his life." Then the usual formula of sentence was read: "You shall be hanged by the neck, but cut down before you are dead; your bowels shall be taken out and burnt before your face; your head shall be cut off, and your body divided into four quarters, to be disposed of as his Majesty pleases." With placid composure he heard this terrible sentence, and lifting his eyes toward heaven prayed: "God Almighty bless your Lordship." He was happy: the dream of years was about to be realized. It is narrated that when a holy old priest prophesied to him, before he set out from Rome for Ireland, that his blood would be spilt for the Catholic faith, the future martyr replied : "I am unworthy of such a favor; nevertheless, aid me with your prayers that this my desire may be fulfilled."

The request to treat of spiritual matters with a Catholic priest was denied the Archbishop; he was told that he could have the services only of a minister of the Church of England. But Divine Providence planned otherwise: a fellow prisoner, Father Corker, a Benedictine, with the assistance of some of the prison officials, brought the prelate the consolations of his Eucharistic Lord. To this priest we are indebted for an account of how Dr. Plunket bore himself during his days at Newgate. "It was then," the Benedictine writes, "that I clearly witnessed in him the Spirit of God and the amiable fruits of the Holy Ghost — charity, joy and peace — splendidly shining in his soul." He goes on to say that the Archbishop spent his time in almost continual prayer; that he fasted three or four days a week; and that his joy seemed to increase with his danger, and was fully accomplished by an assurance of death. In the letters, too, of the high-souled prelate himself, penned shortly before he suffered, is evinced the dauntless spirit with which he welcomed his terrible end. To Michael Plunket, a relative at the Irish College, he wrote: "I die most willingly, and being the first among the Irish, I will teach others, with the grace of God, by example, not to fear death. ... I forgive all who had a hand, directly or indirectly, in my death and in my innocent blood."

On July II, 1681, Ireland's Primate, stretched on a wooden hurdle, was dragged through the streets of London to Tyburn, the place of execution. On the scaffold he asseverated his innocence, and, like his Divine Model, forgave his enemies. As the hangman's halter was being adjusted he intoned the "Miserere" and said other prayers aloud. Then, as he spoke the words, In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum, the cart was drawn away, and Oliver Plunket, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of all Ireland, had won the martyr's crown.

The contemporary Archbishop of Cashel, Dr. Brennan, the faithful companion of the martyr, tells us that the vast throng that witnessed the martyrdom were greatly edified, "because he displayed such a serenity of countenance, such a tranquillity of mind and elevation of soul, that he seemed rather a spouse hastening to the mystical feast than a culprit led forth to the scaffold." "In his death," notes an eye-witness, "he gave more glory to religion than he could have won for it by many years of a fruitful apostolate."

The body of the martyr is preserved at St. Gregory's College, Downside, England; his head is with the Sisters of St. Dominic in their convent at Drogheda in Ireland, where pilgrims come from distant lands to pay homage to this staunch son of Erin, who lost his life only to find it.

Edward F. Carrigan, S. J.

The American Catholic Quarterly Review, Volume 45, April 1920, 177-182.

Content Copyright © De Processu Martyriali 2020. All rights reserved

Friday 10 July 2020

Irish Colleges Abroad

Following yesterday's posting on the Irish Franciscans in which their College of Saint Anthony at Louvain and its famous teachers and students were discussed, today we can look at some of the other Irish Colleges on the Continent. All of these establishments played a crucial role in educating Irishmen for the priesthood once the ability to access Catholic education at home was denied. The alumni then, at great personal risk, returned to Ireland to promote the Counter-Reformation and the author lists those who are numbered among the Irish martyrs. Those who continued to pursue the academic life also made a major contribution to the preservation of Irish tradition, the Annals of the Four Masters and the researches into the lives of the early Irish saints of Fathers John Colgan and Hugh Ward, for example, were all projects sponsored by the Franciscans of Louvain. The article below was syndicated from the London Catholic Times by the New Zealand press in 1925, and its byline 'How the Faith was Kept' is a very fitting one:

How the Faith Was Kept

(By Rev. D. O'Mahony, B.D., B.C.L., in the London Catholic Times.)


The gratifying announcement that the Irish Franciscans have reacquired their old College of St. Anthony in Louvain recalls the successful efforts that were made abroad during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries for the education and training of ecclesiastical students for Ireland. Numerous Irish colleges had to be established and maintained on the Continent; the most notable of them were the Irish College in Paris and the Irish Franciscan College at Louvain, the Irish College in Rome having but few students before the nineteenth century. The total number of Irish clerical students being educated on the Continent at the outbreak of the French Revolution was 478, and of these there were 348 in France. One result of the Revolution was the foundation and endowment of Maynooth College in 1795 by the British Government.

The Irish College in Paris still survives, educating at present about 100 Irish students for the secular priesthood. Its present Rector, the Rev. P. Boyle, CM., has written an interesting History of the College (London, 1901). Its history goes back to the late sixteenth century, when bands of Irish students began to settle in Paris. They were accommodated in various premises till the College des Lombards, in the Rue des Carmes, was handed over to them exclusively by Louis XIV in 1677. Among Bourdaloue's sermons is one he preached, probably in the year 1696, in aid of the Irish students' seminary. An earlier benefactor of theirs was St. Vincent de Paul. The Lombard College housed all the Irish students till 1770, when the Paris Irish College of the present day began to be built in the Rue du Cheval Vert, now the Rue des Irlandais, quite close to the Pantheon. In 1792, during the Reign of Terror, it fell under the ban of the revolutionaries. Its superior, the Abbé Kearney, who, with his friend, the Abbé Edgeworth, brother of the Irish novelist, Maria Edgeworth, had been present at the execution of Louis XVI, was in 1793 thrown into prison and narrowly escaped being guillotined. After the Revolution the College was re-opened; and from 1804 to 1814 the English and Scottish students in Paris as well as a few French students, lived (not always amicably) with the Irish students in the Irish College. After the disasters of 1814 and the restoration of the Bourbons the Irish Bishops sought to have the funds of the College annexed to Maynooth; but the French Government refused to allow this, and the Irish College was spared. It has also escaped, more or less, the confiscation threatened by recent French legislation regarding religious establishments. The late Cardinal Logue and the late parish priest of Youghal, Mgr. Canon Keller (called Kelleher in his earlier days), were students and afterwards professors at the Irish College. There were Irish Colleges also at Bordeaux, Toulouse, Nantes, Poitiers, Douai, Lille, Rouen, and Bourges. None of these survived the French Revolution. The biggest of them was the one at Nantes. To the Irish College at Douai, which was founded as early as 1577, an annual subsidy of 5000 florins was paid (not always promptly) by the King of Spain, till Douai was annexed to France in 1677.


In Belgium there were Irish Colleges at Antwerp and Tournai, and Louvain had three Irish Colleges—an Irish Dominican College, called the College of the Holy Cross, the Irish Franciscan College of St. Anthony, and an Irish College for the secular clergy, known as "Collegium Pastorale." All these were confiscated by the French revolutionaries. The Irish Colleges at Louvain (writes Father Boyle) during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries gave to the Church in Ireland 32 bishops and about 300 priests, of whom 200 at least were graduates in arts of the University of Louvain. One of the rectors of the Irish Pastoral College, Thomas Stapleton, was also rector of the University. Five years after the suppression of the monastery of Donegal, their last house of studies at home, the Irish Franciscans established themselves at Louvain in 1606, with the approbation of Pope Paul V and an annual endowment of 1000 crowns from the King of Spain. Ten years later they acquired a new site at the corner of the Rue de Pantalu, and built their permanent College of St. Anthony, which they are again to occupy as a constituent college of Louvain University. For nearly 200 years the Irish Friars in Louvain did inspiring work for Faith and Fatherland. By the year 1630 their college had supplied to Ireland three archbishops, two bishops, and 63 missionaries. In 1619 it sent priests to the Hebrides, in Scotland. It provided professors for the Irish Franciscan College founded at Prague, in 1629, and for St. Isidore's, Rome, in 1625. In the list of Irish confessors and martyrs whose beatification is at present being promoted in Rome it counts eleven of its alumni —Brothers D. Cheevers and M. Hoare, Fathers J. Cathan, B. Conny, P. Fleming, W. Hickey, J. Kearney, F. O'Mahony, H. Stafford, W. Walsh, and N. Wogan. Early professors of the college whose names are still familiar to the learned were Father B. O'Hussey, whose Irish Catechism (Antwerp, 1608) was the first Catholic book ever printed in Irish; Father Hugh Ward, who compiled a Life of St. Romuald, the Irish patron saint of Mechlin; Father Patrick Fleming, author of a Life of St. Columba (Louvain, 1667), and other biographical work; and the celebrated hagiologist, Father John Colgan. A lay-brother of the college, Michael O'Clery, the chronicler of the Four Masters, was sent from Louvain to spend 20 years in Ireland collecting historical materials and eventually compiling his famous Annals. The college, too, became the last resting-place of many distinguished Irish exiles. In the chapel are buried Bernard O'Neill, son of the Earl of Tyrone Hugh O'Donnell, son of Prince Rory O'Donnell and grandson of the Earl of Kildare, and his namesake and cousin, the son of Caffar O'Donnell; also Lady Nuala O'Donnell, sister of the Earl of Tirconnell, and Lady Rose O'Doherty, his sister-in-law. This Rose O'Doherty was the wife of Caffar O'Donnell, who, with his brother, the Earl of Tirconnell, is buried in the Church of San Pietro in Montorio, Rome; after her husband's death in 1608 she left Rome for Flanders, and later married Owen Roe O'Neill, for whom a worthy dirge has been penned by Aubrey de Vere:

Lords and priests, ye talked and talked
In Kilkenny's Council Hall;
But this man whose game ye balked
Was the one man 'mong you all!

In the College cloisters lie buried the Irish Dominican Bishop, Dominic Burke, and the famous annalist, Brother Michael O'Clery; also Major Lynch, of the Lynches of Galway.


In Spain there were Irish Colleges at Salamanca, Seville, Madrid, Alcala de Henares, and Compostela. Of these the one at Salamanca alone survives. It bears the aristocratic title of "El Real Colegio de Nobles Irlandeses," and at present accommodates some 30 clerical students, who attend lectures at the diocesan seminary.

The Irish Colleges of Salamanca, Compostela, and Madrid enjoyed subsidies from the King of Spain. The College at Alcala, dating from 1590, had a big endowment from its founder, a Portugese nobleman, who was related to the McDonnels of Ulster. The fishermen of Seville obtained from Pope Paul V an indult permitting them to fish on six Sundays and holidays each year for the benefit of the Irish College of Seville. The Irish merchants at Seville granted the College a percentage on every cask of wine they sold; and Irish soldiers in the service of Spain gave it a portion of their pay. The founder of the Irish Colleges at Seville and Madrid was Father Theobald Stapleton, who afterwards died a martyr in Ireland.

In Lisbon also there was an Irish College founded in 1593 for the secular clergy. It came to an end during the civil wars in Portugal in the nineteenth century. The Irish Dominican friars and the Irish Dominican nuns still retain convents in Lisbon.

New Zealand Tablet, Volume LII, Issue 52, 30 December 1925, Page 13 

Thursday 9 July 2020

The Irish Franciscans

We are introduced to some of the Irish Franciscan martyrs in this report of a talk given in Scotland in 1890 by Father Antonine Scannell, O.S.F.  I think the speaker was an Irishman by birth although he served in Glasgow, where there was a large Irish population attracted by the economic opportunities offered by this heavily-industrialized city. The Franciscan Order was established in Ireland in the thirteenth century, tradition has it that they first landed in Youghal in 1231. Father Scannell gives a stirring account of their contribution to Irish history, especially their role in the success of the Irish Counter-Reformation. He describes the great scholars of the Irish Franciscan College at Louvain concentrating on Waterford man Luke Wadding and the Donegal Franciscans John Colgan, Michael O'Clery and the Four Masters. But the 'triumphs' of the Order were the many Franciscan martyrs, a selection of whom he introduces.


The following discourse on the struggles and triumphs of the Irish Franciscans was delivered lately in the Franciscan Church, Glasgow, by the Very Rev. Father Antonine Scannell, O.S.F., in aid of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. He said: Among the very many incidents that occurred and are recorded in the ecclesiastical history of Ireland during the past three centuries, it could be said without hesitation that there was not one that could be compared to the subject spoken of that night. That subject was replete with interest. The men he intended to speak of had been instrumental in preserving the faith of the Irish people and keeping it alive in many a lonely district in Ireland. It had been sealed, too, by the blood that flowed from the hearts of the noble Franciscans. He would wish them to understand his intention was to include in their struggles, first of all, what they did to keep alive the faith of the Irish people, what they did by the works that flowed forth from their pens, what they did by that love they ever bore to their fatherland, and the means that they employed for the purpose of securing Ireland's independence. By their triumphs he simply meant nothing more than their martyrdom. To speak that evening of the history of the Irish Franciscans from the time they landed in Youghal to the present day would be a herculean task to attempt, and though he limited his remarks to the latest three centuries, the field was so vast that he was bound to keep himself within a certain limit, and to be as brief as possible. 

During the course of these past years Ireland had been under the sword of persecution, and the very shamrocks on the hillsides and plains that once drooped their heads to the footsteps of saints had been dyed again and again by the blood that poured forth from the hearts of Irish Franciscans. Myriads of hired informers had been sent around the country for the sole purpose of hunting down like bloodhounds their priestly victims. A few indeed escape, in spite of the watch that had been kept upon them. Many of these noble-hearted men went forth in the midst of perils and danger, braving every obstacle, to uphold the banner of faith, and, if necessary, to dye it again with their blood. Time after time these pseudo reformers rose up and attacked every dogma of their holy religion, and these champions of faith had again to descend for the hundredth time into the arena of discussion to refute the calumnies that had been directed against the Holy Church.

Let it be said to the eternal and immortal honour of the Irish Franciscans that when driven from their homes, which were gutted and razed to the ground, they not only assembled in the glens and woods to recite the holy office, but they, even in the very face of the tyrant, wore the holy habit of St. Francis, in defiance of all penal laws, and, what is more, during the very rage, and height, and apex of the persecution in Ireland, the Irish Franciscans met from time to time in Dublin to hold their provincial chapters, and elect the various superiors for the different houses in the country. Sometimes nearly seventy of them assembled, and they could often hear beyond the walls of their place of meeting the groans of some victim of the tyranny of those penal times.

 Not only this, but more. There is not a county in Ireland, from one end to the other, where there is not heard of and known the name of some brave son of St. Francis, who endured direful hardships and who braved every difficulty in bringing aid to those who stood in need of it. Who has not heard of that brave Father Ward, a native of Tir-Conail, who, with his companions, traversed every county of Ulster? At a time when other priests were forced away and sent off in exile, that man went into the lonely districts of Ulster where the people were scattered and without sacraments or sacrifice, and though he knew that there was danger around him, yet there was not a cabin he did not enter, not an aching heart he did not relieve, not a dying fellow-countryman that he did not whisper words of consolation into his ear. Mayo and the Western counties had been visited by Father O'Dowd and his companions, never thinking of aught else than the spiritual wants of those in need of their aid, yet they knew there was nothing before them but the gibbet or the rack, whose terrors they braved. Look around the Southern coasts of Ireland. See such men as Father Hanley and Father O'Sullivan rising with their habit, moving among the people in the time of direst persecution — men who heeded not the danger that surrounded them and prevented many a bloody deed during those disastrous times, who brought peace, comfort, and happiness by their presence among the people. Well did Wicklow, Carlow, and Wexford remember the names of Fathers O'Molloy, Doherty, and Ferrall, all sons of St. Francis. These men passed from one mountain district to another, went from cabin to cabin, telling the people not to think of them, but of themselves, that if they were sheltered in the house it would be as dangerous for shelterers as for sheltered. And many a cold winter night did those brave Franciscans pass on the rocks and mountains, with nothing but the canopy of heaven over their heads.

Not only did they uphold and keep the faith of the Irish people at home, they did more — for at one time the Irish Franciscans were more numerous than all the other religions put together— not only did they keep the lamp of faith alive at home, but went abroad like the saints of old. Even to Scotland did they come, and for many a year on the western coasts was our holy religion preserved by the Irish Franciscans. Who has not heard of Father Ward, of Father O'Neil, of Father M'Cann, and of Father Hegarty? These were the men sent by Pope Paul V. into the vineyard of Scotland at the time when Knox's ruffians were raping through the land, and be it said to his glory that Father Ward by his labours, brought back into the fold many a heretic who had erred. Those four Franciscan fathers converted over four hundred heretics and brought them back to the Church they deserted. In one part, a Protestant minister pursued some of the Fathers and had a warrant in his pocket for their arrest. They were apprehended and thrown into a filthy prison. But the children of St. Francis cared little about gibbet or dungeon, scaffold or rack.

Strange to say, during the fury of the tempest of persecution there were men to be found among the children of St. Francis, who sent forth from their pens the most marvellous works of literature, history, science, and art. There is M'Caghwell or Cavellus, the successor of Peter Lombard, the man who wrote the commentaries of the works of the Irish Franciscan, John Duns Scotus, termed "The Subtle Doctor," the defender of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Mother of God. But this is only one. Among the many learned works produced, we have that of Florence Conry, Archbishop of Tuam, a child of St. Francis, who went forth from the press the most wonderful works on every branch of science. What is to be thought of the authors of the Annals of Ulster— tbe Annals of Ireland—the annals of the Four Masters? Who were the Four Masters? Four Irish Franciscans— men, who although they had been driven time after time from their home in Donegal, still pursued their labours on the hillside or in the camp. The Annals of the Four Masters were received by ancient and modern writers with the utmost reverence and respect. Nothing can surpass the eulogiums that have been given to these learned and pious men. Again, who was the man who left within our grasp the history of the saints of Ireland? He is a man that, during a long course of years, brought together every possible document that could be obtained for the purpose of recording every deed of those saints that lived in every vale and hill in Ireland—that man was no other than Father John Colgan, an Irish Franciscan.

But there is one who holds his head and shoulders above every other writer of his age, and who was a prodigy, not only of his own time but of succeeding ages— Father Luke Wadding, a native of Waterford. It is simply marvellous how that man, in the midst of the whirl and bustle of his time, and the solicitude he had for the Irish people, could ever produce the works he did in such rapid succession. Apart altogether from the Annals of the Franciscan Order, which are certainly huge volumes in themselves, we can scarcely understand how it was possible he sent forth the innumerable works that have been and will be admired by the learned of every age. He was a man who raised up colleges for Irish students who were refused learning at home, and was a man who, singlehanded as he was, had the banners of the Irish chieftains blessed by the Sovereign Pontiff in the crusade they waged for faith and fatherland against the heresy of the time. He it was who sent or had sent the nuncios, Scarampi and Rinnuccini. Whatever may be said about their mission in Ireland, one thing is certain— that if Rinnuccini had been sent to Ireland when Wadding first desired it, Ireland would have been independent; there would not have been a Saxon in the island. Who was it, too, that sent the double-edged sword of Aodh O'Neil to Eeoghain Ruadh (Owen Roe)— that sword that drove terror into the enemies of Ireland? No other than Father Luke Wadding. Who was it encouraged Eeoghain Ruadh, who was it raised and roused the Irish exiles abroad to return to their native land and enter the army of Eeoghain Ruadh? No other than the humble Franciscan, Father Luke Wadding. 

These were some struggles of the Irish Franciscans. And now for their triumphs. They were well aware it was impossible they should escape the bloodhounds and hired informers, but he could not attempt that evening to relate to them all the triumphs of the Irish Franciscans over every instrument of torture during penal times; it was only possible to place before them the suffering of a few. Father O'Duillan was taken in the Friary in Youghal by order of the Viceroy. He was a man of singular meekness and piety. Captain Dowdall apprehended him. He was tied with cords and dragged along the streets to Trinity Gate. Heavy stones were tied to his feet, and he was swung up with ropes to the tower. After having been held aloft in the air for a length of time he was lowered again; his feet were than tied and he was raised with his head towards earth. The soldiers were drawn around him, and during (he course of that time the holy man never ceased to pray for his executioners. They were ordered to fire and two bullets passed through his heart. While Father O'Dowd was performing his offices of charity in Mayo he was permitted to hear the confession of a man condemned to death. Immediately the tyrants demanded of him all that he heard from the condemned man. Father O'Dwyer refused and declared he could not. They threatened him, but in vain, " I know nothing about what the man said to me." "See the gibbet; see the rack!" Father O'Dowd declared he cared nothing about their threats. They took off his cord, wound it around his head, put in a large stick between the cord, and twisted it until the very eyes burst from their sockets and the skull was crushed. In an agony he expired.

Father Donald and Father Hinley were apprehended on the southern coast. They were tied back to back and carried to the top of a steep rock, and from it were precipitated with violence into the waves of the Atlantic.

Father O'Hely, who had been raised to the Bishopric of Mayo, with his chaplain, returned from Rome, and immediately on landing they were apprehended and brought before Drury in Limerick. They were asked to acknowledge the Queen— the glorious "Queen Bess" — as head of the Church. The bishop declared he acknowledged no head except the Sovereign Pontiff, the visible head of the Church on earth. For that act of treason both of them— the chaplain was Father O'Ruark, a descendant of the princes of Breffni — both were placed on the rack. Sharp-pointed needles were thrust up between their nails and their feet. Their limbs were pulled to the farthest extent. The dislocated bodies were suspended with chains for fourteen days, and during that time they were the target of the brutal soldiery.

 In the city of Cork, Father Francis Mahoney was apprehended for nothing else than refusing to acknowledge the king or queen as Head of the Church. His hands were first bound together. Pitch and tar were placed between his fingers. Fire was then set to the fingers, and while they were blazing a parson present asked him whether be felt any pain. The holy man said, "Just put your finger in the flames." After that he was hung, but, strange to say, after being hanged for several hours and cut down— his friends being allowed to carry off the body— he rose up again to life. This is a thing that frequently happened during the ages of persecution in Ireland. It may or may not be looked upon as a miraculous occurrence. However, as soon as he arose he called upon those present to bring before him the chief officers of the British forces in the city, and when they appeared the holy man upbraided them, showed them the evil they were pursuing, and the wickedness of their courses. Instead of being the means of reconciling, this exasperated them the more, so much so that the friar was ordered to be hanged.

The Bishop of Down and Connor, Dr. O'Devaney, with his chaplain, both Franciscans, were brought to Dublin Castle and thrown into a dungeon there. Efforts were made to assist him, but the only wish he expressed was that he should be buried in his habit. He was a man of over eighty years of age, and when he was brought before villainous tyrants in Dublin Castle and accused of all sorts of things he had never heard of, and told that he would be set at liberty if he would but acknowledge their heresies, the holy man arose and declared: "No; I have not many years to live, and as our Lord died on the Cross for me, I am only too glad to suffer death for love of Him, and here now before you and the world, I declare that I am prepared to shed my blood for the faith." He was dragged in a cart through the streets of Dublin. When he mounted the scaffold, he, with thousands around him, prayed aloud for all who were about to execute him, and thanked God that the moment had arrived that he could give proof of his love for Him.

There is this to be remarked about the struggles of the Irish Franciscans— the great thing they looked forward to, the great thing that animated them, was the desire of having at one time or another the opportunity of shedding their blood for the faith of Jesus Christ. This is certainly more than human. These men of God braved hardships and dangers, because the faith they taught the people they wished to seal with their own blood. Hence it is that if there be a name to-day revered, honoured, respected, and loved in Ireland, it is certainly that of a child of St. Francis. Hence it was also they had reason to look back with pride to those men who spent their days and themselves for the faith of their fathers, who were worthy inheritors of the mantle of St Patrick, and who to-day, after 300 years of persecution, were as bright and glorious and strong as the first day they landed in the town of Youghal.

New Zealand Tablet, Volume XVII, Issue 45, 28 February 1890, Page 27