Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Irish Martyrs: The Blessed Few of Many

Dermot O'Hurley, the Catholic Archbishop of Carshel, was hanged on June 20, 1584, outside of Dublin after excruciating torture. According to the Dictionary of National Biography, he was

called in Irish Diarmait Ua Hurthuile, the son of William O'Hurley, by his wife, Honora O'Brien of the O'Briens of Thomond, was born about 1619. His father, a well-to-do farmer at Lycodoon in the parish of Knockea, near Limerick, also acted as agent for the Earl of Desmond. Being destined for a learned profession, he was sent, after receiving what education was possible for him in Ireland, to Louvain, where he took his degree with applause in the canon and civil law. Afterwards he appears to have gone to Paris, and about 1559 he was appointed professor of philosophy at Louvain. Subsequently he held the chair of canon law for four years at Rheims, where he acquired an unhappy notoriety for contracting debts. He then proceeded to Rome, where he became deeply engaged in the plans of the Irish exiles against Elizabeth's government. On 11 Sept. 1581 he was appointed by Gregory XIII to the see of Cashel, vacant since 1578 by the death of Maurice Fitzgibbon, and on 27 Nov. he received the pallium in full consistory. He was a mere layman at the time, and a contemporary congratulates him on the triple honour thus conferred on him: —

Quid dicam? vel quid mirer? nova culmina? mirer
⁠Uno te passu tot saliisse gradus!
Una sacerdotem creat, una et episcopon bora,
⁠Archiepiscopon et te facit bora simul.

In the following summer he set out from Rome to take possession of his diocese, proceeding by way of Rheims, where he discharged his debts 'recte et gratiose,' and where he was in August detained for a time by a severe illness. He embarked at Cherbourg, and landed at Skerries, a little to the north of Dublin, about the beginning of September. His baggage and papers he had sent by another vessel, which was captured by pirates, and in this way government was apprised of his intentions, and caused a sharp outlook to be kept for him at the principal ports. Disguising himself, and attended by only one companion. Father John Dillon, he made his way to Waterford; but being recognised there by a government agent, he retraced his steps to Slane Castle, where he lay for some time concealed in a secret chamber. Becoming more confident, he appeared at the public table, where his conversation aroused the suspicions of the chancellor. Sir Robert Dillon. Finding himself suspected, he proceeded by a circuitous route to Carrick-on-Suir, where, with Ormonde's help, he was shortly afterwards, about the beginning of October, captured. He was taken to Dublin, and committed to prison. Being brought before the lords-justices Archbishop Loft us and Sir Henry Wallop for examination, little of importance was elicited from him, though he admitted that he was 'one of the House of Inciuisition,' and his papers revealed his correspondence with the Earl of Desmond and viscount Baltinglas. Walsingham recommended the use of 'torture, or any other severe manner of proceeding to gain his knowledge of all foreign practices against her majesty's state;' but the lords justices, especially Loftus, were loth, out of respect for his position and learning, to resort to such extreme measures, and, on the ground that they had neither rack nor other instrument of terror, advised that he should be sent to London. Walsingham, however, impressed with the dangerous nature of his mission, suggested toasting his feet against the fire with hot boots, and a commission having been made out to Waterhouse and Fenton for that purpose, O'Hurley was subjected to the most excruciating torture, He bore the ordeal with extraordinary patience and heroism, and was taken back to 'prison more dead than alive. Torture having failed, and government being advised that ' an indictment for treason committed abroad would not lie, and fearing to run the risk of a trial by jury, O'Hurley, after nine months' imprisonment, was condemned by martial law. The warrant for his execution was signed by Loft us and Wallop on 20 June 1584, and next day, very early in the morning, he was executed, being hanged for greater ignominy with a withen rope, at a lonely spot in the outskirts of the city, probably near where the Catholic University Church now stands in St. Stephen's Green. His remains were interred at the place of execution, but were privately removed by William Fitzsimon, a citizen of Dublin, who placed them in a wooden urn, and deposited them in the church of St. Kevin. His grave became famous among the faithful for several miracles reputed to have taken place there.

From the date of his martyrdom the Irish martyrs beatified by Pope St. John Paul II in 1992 take their feast. The others honored today are:

Bishop Patrick O’Healy and Father Cornelius O’Rourke, Franciscans: tortured and hanged at Kilmallock 22nd August 1579

The Wexford Martyrs: Matthew Lambert and sailors – Robert Tyler, Edward Cheevers and Patrick Cavanagh: died in Wexford 1581

Margaret Ball: lay woman, died in prison 1584

Maurice Kenraghty (or MacEnraghty): secular priest, hanged at Clonmel on 20th April 1585

Dominic Collins: Jesuit brother, hanged in Youghal 1602

Bishop Conor O’Devany and Father Patrick O’Loughran: Franciscans, hanged 6th February 1612

Francis Taylor of Swords, lay man, Lord Mayor of Dublin: died in prison 1621

Father Peter Higgins, Dominican, Prior of Naas: hanged at Hoggen Green, Dublin 23rd March 1642

Bishop Terence Albert O’Brien, Dominican: hanged and beheaded at Gallow’s Green, Limerick 30th October 1651

John Kearney, Franciscan, hanged 11th March 1653

William Tirry, Augustinian, hanged 2nd May 1654

More about them here.

As the Catholic Encyclopedia explains, there are many more Irish martyrs who have not been beatified nor canonized by the Catholic Church. It is an extremely long list, especially under "Good Queen Bess", Elizabeth I. When you read the descriptions of how some of them were killed, it reminds you of the cruelty of the Communists in Russia against the Orthodox:

1565: Conacius Macuarta (Conn McCourt) and Roger MacCongaill (McConnell), Franciscans — flogged to death, Armagh, 16 December, for refusing to acknowledge the queen's supremacy.
1575: John Lochran, Donagh O'Rorke, and Edmund Fitzsimon, Franciscans — hanged, 21 January, Downpatrick;
1575: Fergall Ward, Franciscan guardian, Armagh — hanged, 28 April, with his own girdle.
1577: Thomas Courcy, vicar-general at Kinsale — hanged, 30 March;
1577: William Walsh, Cistercian, Bishop of Meath — died, 4 January, in exile at Alcalá.
1578: Patrick O'Hely, Bishop of Mayo, and Cornelius O'Rorke, priest, Franciscans — tortured and hanged, 22 August, Kilmallock;
1578: David Hurley, dean of Emly — died in prison;
1578: Thomas Moeran, dean of Cork — taken in the exercise of his functions and executed.
1579: Thaddæus Daly and his companion, O.S.F. — hanged, drawn, and quartered at Limerick, 1 January. The bystanders reported that his head when cut off distinctly uttered the words: "Lord, show me Thy ways."
1579: Edmund Tanner, S.J., Bishop of Cork — died, 4 June, in prison at Dublin;
1579: John O'Dowd, priest, O.S.F. — refused to reveal a confession, put to death at Elphin by having his skull compressed with a twisted cord;
1579: Thomas O'Herlahy, Bishop of Ross.
1580: Edmund MacDonnell, priest, S.J. — 16 March, Cork (but the year should be 1575 and the name perhaps O'Donnell);
1580: Laurence O'Moore, priest, Oliver Plunkett, gentleman, and William Walsh or Willick, an Englishman — tortured and hanged, 11 November, after the surrender of Dun-an-oir in Kerry;
1580: Daniel O'Neilan priest, O.S.F. — fastened round the waist with a rope and thrown with weights tied to his feet from one of town-gates at Youghal, finally fastened to a mill-wheel and torn to pieces, 28 March. He is obviously the person whom Mooney commemorates under the name O'Duillian, assigning the date, 22 April, 1569, from hearsay;
1580: Daniel Hanrichan, Maurice O'Scanlan, and Philip O'Shee (O'Lee), priests, O.S.F. — beaten with sticks and slain, 6 April, before the altar of Lislachtin monastery, Co. Kerry;
1580: the prior at the Cistercian monastery of Graeg, and his companions. Murphy, quoting O'Sullevan, says the monastery was Graiguenamanagh; O'Sullevan names the place Seripons, Jerpoint.
1581: Nicholas Nugent, chief justice, David Sutton, John Sutton, Thomas Eustace, John Eustace, William Wogan, Robert Sherlock, John Clinch, Thomas Netherfield, or Netterville, Robert Fitzgerald, gentleman of the Pale, and Walter Lakin (Layrmus) — executed on a charge of complicity in rebellion with Lord Baltinglass;
1581: Matthew Lamport, described as a parish priest (pastor) of Dublin Diocese, but more probably a baker (pistor) of Wexford — executed for harbouring Baltinglass and Father Rochford, S.J.
1581: Robert Meyler, Edward Cheevers, John O'Lahy, and Patrick Canavan, sailors of Wexford — hanged, drawn, and quartered, 5 July, for conveying priests, a Jesuit, and laymen out of Ireland;
1581: Patrick Hayes, shipowner of Wexford, charged with aiding bishops, priests, and others — died in prison;
1581: Richard French, priest, Ferns Diocese — died in prison;
1581: Nicholas Fitzgerald, Cistercian — hanged, drawn, and quartered, September, at Dublin.
1582: Phelim O'Hara and Henry Delahoyde, O.S.F., of Moyne, Co. Mayo — hanged and quartered, 1 May;
1582: Thaddæus O'Meran, or O'Morachue, O.S.F., guardian of Enniscorthy;
1582: Phelim O'Corra (apparently Phelim O'Hara, above);
1582: Æneas Penny, parish priest of Killatra (Killasser, Co. Mayo) — slain by soldiers while saying Mass, 4 May;
1582: Roger O'Donnellan, Cahill McGoran, Peter McQuillan, Patrick O'Kenna, James Pillan, priests, and Roger O'Hanlon (more correctly McHenlea, in Curry), lay brother, O.S.F. — died, 13 February, Dublin Castle, but the date can scarcely be correct for all;
1582: Henry O'Fremlamhaidh (anglicized Frawley);
1582: John Wallis, priest — died, 20 January, in prison at Worcester;
1582: Donagh O'Reddy, parish priest of Coleraine — hanged and transfixed with swords, 12 June, at the altar of his church.
1584: Dermot O'Hurley, Archbishop of Cashel;
1584: Gelasius O'Cullenan, O.Cist., Abbot of Boyle, and his companion, variously named Eugene Cronius and Hugh or John Mulcheran (? Eoghan O'Maoilchiarain), either Abbot of Trinity Island, Co. Roscommon, or a secular priest — hanged, 21 November, at Dublin;
1584: John O'Daly, priest, O.S.F. — trampled to death by cavalry;
1584: Eleanor Birmingham, widow of Bartholomew Ball — denounced by her son, Walter Ball, Mayor of Dublin, died in prison;
1584: Thaddæus Clancy, 15 September, near Listowel.
1585: Richard Creagh, Archbishop of Armagh — poisoned, 14 October, in the Tower of London. He is included amongst the 242 Prætermissi in the article ENGLISH CONFESSORS AND MARTYRS;
1585: Maurice Kenraghty, priest; Patrick O'Connor and Malachy O'Kelly, O.Cist. — hanged and quartered, 19 May, at Boyle.
1586: Maurice, or Murtagh, O'Brien, Bishop of Emly — died in prison at Dublin;
Donagh O'Murheely (O'Murthuile, wrongly identified with O'Hurley) and a companion, O.S.F. — stoned and tortured to death at Muckross, Killarney.
1587: John Cornelius, O.S.F., of Askeaton; another John Cornelius, S.J., surnamed O'Mahony, born in England of Irish parents from Kinelmeky, Co. Cork, is included among the venerabiles of the English list;
1587: Walter Farrell, O.S.F., Askeaton — hanged with his own girdle.
1588: Dermot O'Mulrony, priest, O.S.F., Brother Thomas, and another Franciscan of Galbally, Co. Limerick — put to death there 21 March;
1588: Maurice Eustace, Jesuit novice — hanged and quartered, 9 June, Dublin;
1588: John O'Molloy, Cornelius O'Dogherty, and Geoffrey Farrell, Franciscan priests — hanged, drawn, and quartered, 15 December, at Abbeyleix;
1588: Patrick Plunkett, knight — hanged and quartered, 6 May, Dublin;
1588: Peter Miller, B.D., Diocese of Ferns — tortured, hanged, and quartered, 4 October, 1588;
1588: Peter (or Patrick) Meyler — executed at Galway; notwithstanding the different places of martyrdom assigned, these two names may be those of the same person, a native of Wexford executed at Galway;
1588: Patrick O'Brady, O.S.F., prior at Monaghan — Murphy, on slender grounds, supposes him to be the guardian put to death in 1540, but Copinger and after him Curry, in his "Civil Wars in Ireland", state that six friars were slain in the monastery of Moynihan (Monaghan) under Elizabeth, Thaddæus O'Boyle, guardian of Donegal, slain there, 13 April, by soldiers.
1590: Matthew O'Leyn, priest, O.S.F. — 6 March, Kilcrea;
1590: Christopher Roche, layman — died, 13 December, under torture, Newgate, London.
1591: Terence Magennis, Magnus O'Fredliney or O'Todhry, Loughlin og Mac O'Cadha (? Mac Eochadha, Keogh), Franciscans of Multifarnham — died in prison.
1594: Andrew Strich, priest, Limerick — died in Dublin Castle.
1597: John Stephens, priest, Dublin province, apparently chaplain to the O'Byrnes of Wicklow — hanged and quartered, 4 September, for saying Mass;
1597: Walter Fernan, priest — torn on the rack, 12 March, at Dublin.
1599: George Power, Vicar-General of Ossory — died in prison.
1600: John Walsh, Vicar-General of Dublin — died in prison at Chester;
1600: Patrick O'Hea, layman — charged with harbouring priests, died in prison, 4 December, Dublin--probably the Patrick Hayes of 1581 (supra);
1600: James Dudall (Dowdall) — died either 20 November or 13 August, Exeter;
1600: Nicholas Young, priest, died, Dublin Castle.
1601: Redmond O'Gallagher, Bishop of Derry — slain by soldiers, 15 March, near Dungiven;
1601: Daniel, or Donagh, O'Mollony, Vicar-General of Killaloe — died of torture, 24 April, Dublin Castle;
1601: John O'Kelly, priest — died, 15 May, in prison;
1601: Donagh O'Cronin, clerk — hanged and disembowelled, Cork;
1601: Bernard Moriarty, dean of Ardagh and Vicar-General of Dublin — having his thighs broken by soldiers, died in prison, Dublin.
1602: Dominic Collins, lay brother, S.J. — hanged, drawn, and quartered, 31 October, Youghal.
1602: To this year seems to belong the death of Eugene MacEgan, styled Bishop-designate of Ross, of which he was vicar Apostolic, mortally wounded while officiating in the Catholic army. There was no Catholic army on foot in 1606, at which date his name appears in the official list. He was buried at Timoleague.
The following Dominicans suffered under Elizabeth (1558-1603), but the dates are uncertain: Father MacFerge, prior, and twenty-four friars of Coleraine, thirty-two members of the community of Derry, slain there the same night, two priests and seven novices of Limerick and Kilmallock, assembled in 1602 with forty Benedictine, Cistercian, and other monks, at Scattery Island in the Shannon to be deported under safe conduct in a man-of-war, were cast overboard at sea.

But, remember, as Peter Hitchens told us, don't you dare compare Elizabeth I and Mary I! 

Pope St. John Paul II reminded the Irish bishops of their heritage during their ad limina visit to Rome in 1992:

Your ad Limina visit happily coincides with the Beatification of Archbishop Dermot O’Hurley, Francis Taylor, Margaret Ball and their companion Martyrs. Times have changed since that dark period in which the profession of faith often met with imprisonment, torture and death. But the essence of their witness, their fidelity to Christ and to the Church, is sublimely relevant today. The Martyrs challenge the faith which you and your people profess as heirs to the truths for which they gave their lives. They stimulate your fidelity to Christ, who is himself "the faithful witness" (Rev. 1:5). Their intercession and their heroic example serve as a point of reference for the commitment and dedication with which you personally are called to fulfil the episcopal ministry. The Beatification of the Martyrs reminds us all of "the one thing necessary" (Lk. 10:43), and is a source of encouragement to all those in Ireland whose generous and self–giving Christian life is a pledge of divine love and the best and most abiding guarantee of a society grounded in justice, truth and peace.

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