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The Irish Martyrs.

The word Martyr in its original meaning meant 'witness'.Over time it was the term given to those people who were willing to give witness to their faith even unto death.

During the 16th and 17th. centuries in Ireland the Catholic Religion was under persecution and many people made the ultimate sacrifice. The names of most of these people were never recorded. The first catalogue of Irish Martyrs was compiled between 1588 and 1599 by Fr. John Houling. This list was added to by an Donegal Franciscan Bishop, Cornelius O'Devany. O'Devany, himself, was imprisoned and killed and is now listed as one of the martyrs.

In the early years of the 20th. Century an attempt was made to catalogue details of 260 martyrs in order to have them declared Saints. Such was the volume of documentation involved that the task proved impossible.

In 1975 the then Archbishop of Dublin, Dr. Dermot Ryan, established a commision that concentrated on the details of just seventeen of these martys. The merit of their case was accepted by the Vatican and they were formally declared 'Blessed' by Pope John Paul II in 1992.

The seventeen Irish Martyrs are:

  1. Bishop Patrick O' Healy
  2. Fr. Conn O'Rourke
  3. Margaret Bermingham
  4. Dr. Dermot O'Hurley
  5. Fr. Maurice MacKenraghty
  6. Dominic Collins
  7. Bishop Cornelius O'Devany
  8. Fr.Patrick O'Loughran
  9. Francis Taylor
  10. Fr. Peter Higgins
  11. Bishop Terence Albert O'Brien
  12. Fr. John Kearney
  13. Fr. William Tirry
  14. Matthew Lambert
  15. Robert Myler
  16. Edward Cheevers
  17. Patrick Cavanagh.

While celebrating the Irish Martyrs we must always remember those scores of others, men and women, who gave their lives for the Faith but whose sacrifice has not, as yet, been officially recognised. This church, which was opened on the 30th May 1994, was the first one in Ireland to bear the name of the Irish Martyrs.

Dominic Collins