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Plunket, St Oliver

Plunket, St Oliver (1629–81). Catholic archbishop of Armagh and primate of Ireland (1670–81). Born in Meath, educated in Rome, Plunket was successively professor of theology there (1657–69) and archbishop of Armagh after consecration in Ghent. He was on good terms with successive viceroys. Diligent in his diocese, he also went on mission to the Hebrides (1671). An ultramontane, he established firm ecclesiastical discipline and raised standards, and, though in dispute with Archbishop Talbot of Dublin over precedence, presided at the synod (1670). Threatened with expulsion after the English Test Act he went into hiding (1674), but was arrested in Dublin (1678) and falsely accused of involvement in the Popish plot. Tried in London on a trumped-up charge of conspiring to bring a French army to Ireland, Plunket was convicted of treason and, despite general agreement of his innocence, was hanged, drawn, and quartered at Tyburn. His relics are in Downside abbey (Som.). He was canonized in 1975.

Revd Dr William M. Marshall

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Plunket, Saint Oliver

Saint Oliver Plunket, 1629–81, Irish Roman Catholic churchman and martyr, b. Co. Meath. He was educated at Rome and named Roman Catholic archbishop of Armagh and primate of all Ireland in 1669. He was on good terms with local Protestants and worked with much success. After the Test Act (1673) he kept mainly in hiding. In his fabrication of tales about the Popish Plot, Titus Oates accused him of planning a foreign invasion of Ireland. Plunket was tried and acquitted in Ireland; he was then taken to London, tried again, convicted, and hanged, drawn, and quartered. The accusations and the witnesses' testimony against him were manifestly false from beginning to end. Plunket was the last Roman Catholic to be executed at Tyburn on politico-religious grounds. He was beatified as a martyr in 1920 and canonized in 1975. Feast: July 11.

See A. Curtayne, The Trial of Oliver Plunkett (1953).

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