Remains of Ireland’s pre-eminent prelate moved to Pro-Cathedral

Cardinal Paul Cullen considered the chief architect of Catholic Church in Ireland

The remains of Ireland's first cardinal and architect of the Catholic Church on this island were removed from Clonliffe College in Dublin this morning and reinterred at the Pro-Cathedral crypt in the city centre.

Since his death in 1878 Cardinal Paul Cullen has rested beneath the high altar of the chapel at Clonliffe, a college he founded in 1854. Clonliffe's recent sale meant his body had to be reinterred in the Pro-Cathedral crypt.

The ceremony was marked by a liturgy presided over this morning by Archbishop Dermot Farrell, Cardinal Cullen's successor as Archbishop of Dublin.

Also in attendance was Msgr Ciarán O'Carroll, administrator at the Church of the Sacred Heart in Donnybrook and Cardinal Cullen's successor as former rector of the Irish College in Rome. Msgr O'Carroll is also author of the 2009 biography Paul Cardinal Cullen: Portrait of a Practical Nationalist.


Originally from near Athy in Co Kildare, where he was born in 1803, Cardinal Cullen spent much of his early adult life in Rome where he was ordained in 1829, the year of Catholic Emancipation in Ireland.

He was sent back to post-Famine Ireland as Archbishop of Armagh in 1849 and the following year convened the Synod of Thurles that laid foundations for the structures and practices of Catholicism in Ireland.

In 1852 he was transferred to Dublin as archbishop and became the first Irish cardinal in 1866. He presided over an era during which a massive building programme of churches, cathedrals and diocesan Colleges was undertaken all over Ireland as well as the expansion of the role of religious orders in providing schools and hospitals.

He and Cardinal, now Saint, John Henry Newman, also laid the foundations for what became UCD. By Cardinal Cullen's death in 1878 the church had become a powerful force in Irish life.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times