Cardinal Brady and Bishop McKeown to lead Festival Day of St Oliver Plunkett

02 Jul 2010

2 July 2010

Cardinal Brady and Bishop McKeown to lead Festival Day of St Oliver Plunkett

– The theme for this year’s festival is ‘The Young Church’

– New website dedicated to the life and times of St Oliver Plunkett

Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland and Bishop Donal McKeown, Auxiliary Bishop of Down and Connor will lead the 2010 Festival Day of St Oliver Plunkett in Drogheda, Co Louth this Sunday 4 July. This year the procession and the celebration of Mass will commemorate the 90th anniversary of the beatification of St Oliver Plunkett.  The theme for this year’s festival is ‘The Young Church’.  The event details are as follows:

  • At 3.00pm a procession of the relics of St Oliver Plunkett will leave Our Lady of Lourdes Church, to arrive at St Peter’s Church, West Street, for Mass at 4.00pm. The procession commemorates the 90th anniversary of the beatification of St Oliver Plunkett, and will be led by a colour party drawn from the local scouting troop and representative of local Catholic organisations as well as visiting pilgrim groups.  The Knights of Columbanus and members of other Orders traditionally carry the relics of St Oliver Plunkett over the mile-long route between the two churches.
  • At 4.00pm Mass will be celebrated at St Peter’s Church.  Cardinal Brady will be the Chief Celebrant. Concelebrants include: Bishop McKeown, who will preach the homily; Bishop Gerard Clifford, Auxiliary Bishop of Armagh; and Canon James Carroll, Parish Priest of St Peter’s Parish, Drogheda.  Music at the Mass will be led by St Peter’s Male Voice Choir, directed by Mr Edward Holly.

Speaking ahead of the Festival Day, Cardinal Brady said “At the age of 22 years Oliver Plunkett left his native Meath to sail from Waterford for Flanders in February 1647 en route to Rome to study for the priesthood.  It was a hazardous journey for many reasons and it was May 1647 when Oliver Plunkett reached the Eternal City.  He spent the next 22 years in Rome studying and teaching until in 1669 he was appointed Archbishop of Armagh.  As he left Rome a Polish friend said prophetically: “You are now going to shed your blood for the Catholic faith.”

“On Sunday next many pilgrims will gather at the National Shrine of St Oliver Plunkett in St Peter’s, Drogheda, to recall and celebrate the fulfilment of that prophecy at Tiburn on 1 July 1681.  Many of those pilgrims will be young people seeking inspiration for their own lives in the life of Oliver Plunkett.  I think we can all find inspiration in his words at the gallows, minutes before his death, specifically about the false witnesses who testified against him, “I do heartily forgive them and also the judges, who by denying me sufficient time to bring my records and witnesses from Ireland, did expose my life to evident danger.”

“I am pleased that so many young people are coming to Drogheda next Sunday.  I believe the story of Oliver’s faith, forgiveness and fortitude has much to offer to all of us, both young and old, in Ireland today.”

A new website dedicated to the life and times of St Oliver Plunkett has been launched to coincide with this year’s Festival Day by St Peter’s Parish in conjunction with Drogheda Borough Council.  The new website includes:

  • information about the town of Drogheda and St Peter’s Church, home to the Shrine of St Oliver
  • a map of the various countries where St Oliver has connections
  • details of the five shrines to St Oliver
  • videos about St Oliver’s journey from youth to martyrdom
  • in-depth readings about St Oliver
  • details of events to celebrate the life and work of St Oliver

Commenting on the new web resource Canon Carroll, Custodian of the Shrine of St Oliver Plunkett, said “St Oliver Plunkett’s story has an international dimension which brings us from Ireland to Italy, across Europe and back to Armagh before his execution in London.  Even after death the journey continues!  His witness to decision-making based on conscience, truth and service, provides a real challenge for this and every age.  Our new website provides a welcome opportunity to explore the life and times of Oliver Plunkett, Saint and hero.”

A special feature on the Festival Day is also now available on  The web feature includes details of this year’s event as well as video highlights from last year festival.

Notes to Editors

Background to the Festival Day of St Oliver Plunkett:

  • St Oliver Plunkett was a former Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland who was martyred in Tyburn, England, in 1681. He was canonised as a martyr by Pope Paul VI in 1975.
  • Each year thousands of pilgrims visit St Oliver Plunkett’s shrine in St Peter’s Church, Drogheda, in the Archdiocese of Armagh, to venerate his relics and to learn about his life story.  Pilgrims pray for the sick and troubled, for family and friends.  They fittingly turn to St Oliver, who was martyred for his faith in a time of political, religious and social turmoil, to pray for his intercession concerning conflict areas at home and abroad.
  • The Patron saints of the Archdiocese of Armagh are: St Patrick, St Malachy and St Oliver Plunkett.
  • Each year, on the first Sunday of July, celebrations of the life of St Oliver also take place at his birthplace in the Diocese of Meath. This celebration is held on the same day each year in front of the old ruined Church at Loughcrew, Oldcastle, Co Meath, the birth place of St Oliver Plunkett.  Mass will be celebrated at 3.00 pm this Sunday – a tradition now going back 60 years.


Further information:
Brenda Drumm, Communications Officer 087 310 4444
Marie Purcell, Communictions Office 01 505 3017