Best Irish FactsFacts on Ireland and the Irish

Oliver Plunkett


Oliver PlunkettOliver Plunkett was born at Loughcrew, near Oldcastle, Co. Meath in 1629.

He was educated by his cousin, Patrick Plunkett, until he was 16.

In 1647 he travelled to Rome to be educated for the priesthood.

He was instructed by Pierfrancesco Scarampi, the papal envoy to the Confederation of Kilkenny.

He studied at the Irish College in Rome and was ordained in 1654.

He became the representative of the Irish bishops in Rome.

Due to the Cromwellian conquest, he could not return to Ireland.

Roman Catholicism was banned and priests were being executed.

He remained in Rome and became a professor of theology.

He served as theological professor at the College of Propaganda Fide.

On 9 July, 1669 he was appointed Archbishop of Armagh.

On 30 November, 1669 he was consecrated at Ghent, Belgium.

On 7 March, 1670 he returned to Ireland.

He was able to return as the restoration of the monarchy relaxed the ban on Catholicism.

He set about reorganising the Church.

In 1670 he established a Jesuit College in Drogheda, Co. Louth.

After the enactment of the Test Act of 1673 he went into hiding.

In 1678 the Popish Plot was concocted by Titus Oates.

Oliver Plunkett was the main Irish victim of this plot.

He was arrested in Dublin in 1679 and imprisoned in Dublin Castle.

He was tried at Dundalk, Co. Louth for conspiring to bring 20,000 French soldier to Ireland.

The trial was aborted as it was felt certain the he would not be convicted in Ireland.

He was moved to Newgate Prison in London.

He was tried at Westminster Hall and found guilty of promoting the Catholic Faith.

He was hanged, drawn, and quartered at Tyburn on 1 July, 1681.

He was initially buried in two tin boxes.

In 1683 his remains were exhumed and were moved to Lamspringe, Germany.

Oliver Plunkett's HeadHis head was brought to Rome and then to Armagh.

On 29 June, 1921 his head was brought to St Peter’s Church in Drogheda Co. Louth.

It can still be seen there today.

The major part of his body now rests in Downside Abbey, near Bath, England.

Some parts of his body are still in Lamspringe.

Relics from his body are located in Ireland, England, France, Germany, the US, and Australia.

He was the last Roman Catholic martyr to die in England.

On 23 May, 1920 he was beatified by Pope Benedict XV.

On 12 October, 1975 he was canonised by Pope Paul VI.

He was the first new Irish saint for nearly 700 years.

In 1997 he became the Patron Saint for Peace and Reconciliation in Ireland.

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©2011 Best Irish Facts

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