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History of the Lieutenancy

An Historical Note on the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem in Ireland

Selskar Abbey

The ruins of Selsker Abbey stand close to Wexford town. This ecclesiastical site was the location of the brief presence of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre in Ireland at the time of the Crusades. It does seem probable that Selsker Abbey (also spelt Selskar, a name derived from St. Sepulchre) at Wexford was an early House of the Order, with a brief existence between the years 1140-1190, after which it reverted to the Augustinian Black Canons up until the dissolution.

There is a tradition that the first Bishop of Connor, St. Aengus Mac Nissi, consecrated by St. Patrick himself, made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in the latter half of the 5th century. St. Adomnan wrote what could be called a 'Guidebook' to the Holy Land at Iona about the year 670 AD. Various chroniclers of the time specifically mention the Irish presence in the first Crusade. The thirteenth century scribe, Robert of Gloucester noted that: "Yrland was amongst the nations that took part in the First Crusade: quaintly adding that: "All the concerts of Europe would have made no music if the Irish harp had been absent".

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Notable Irish Members (Historic): John, Count McCormack

John McCormack (14 June 1884 – 16 September 1945), was a world-famous Irish tenor singer, celebrated for his performances of the operatic and popular song repertoires, and renowned for his diction and breath control. He was also a Papal Count.

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Notable Irish Members (Historic): George, Count Plunkett

George Noble Plunkett or Count Plunkett (3 December 1851 – 12 March 1948) was an Irish nationalist and father of Joseph Mary Plunkett, one of the leaders of the Easter Rising of 1916. Born in Dublin, he was educated at Clongowes Wood College. Plunkett spent much time abroad, notably studying in Nice, France, and throughout Italy.

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Notable Irish Members (Historic): Arthur, Count Moore

Count Arthur Moore, Grand Officer of the Holy Sepulchre, admitted 28th. December 1903. b. at Liverpool, 1849; d. at Mooresfort, Tipperary, Ireland, 1904. Educated at Ushaw, he afterwards travelled in Spain, and in 1874 was elected M.P. for the Borough of Clonmel. 


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Notable Irish Members (Historic): Sir Joseph Redmond

SIR JOSEPH REDMOND, M.D.,KCHS (21 December, 1912) Physician to the Mater Misericordiae Hospital, Dublin.

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Notable Irish Members (Historic): Sir Thomas Grattan Esmonde

Sir Thomas Henry Grattan Esmonde, 11th Baronet, (21 September 1862 – 15 September 1935) was an Irish Home Rule nationalist politician. Esmonde was elected Irish Parliamentary Party MP for the constituencies South Dublin 1885–1892, West Kerry 1892–1900 and North Wexford 1900–1918 in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.  

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Notable Irish Members (Historic): The Rev. Sir John Robert O’Connell

The Rev. Sir John Robert O’Connell (1868-1943) was a philanthropist with a refined civic sensibility. He qualified as a solicitor in 1889. He was very active in the cultural and social life of Dublin at the turn of the twentieth century.

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Notable Irish Members (Historic): Henry Roche

Henry Roche KHS Admitted 17th. November 1912. (1862 – 1947). Mr. P.J. Roche endowed his son with an unusual wedding present, the ruined 13th century castle at Enniscorthy, which he immediately set about restoring.

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Notable Irish Members (Historic): Bishop Stephen Reville

Bishop Stephen Reville, O.S.A. created GCHS 30 March, 1910. (May 1844 – September 1916), Bishop of Sandhurst, Australia. 

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Notable Irish Members (Historic): Bishop Thomas Burke

Thomas Martin Aloysius Burke (January 10, 1840—January 20, 1915) was an Irish-born clergyman of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Bishop of Albany from 1894 until his death in 1915. 

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Notable Irish Members (Historic): John Delaney

John Delaney who died in his 70th. year in September 1911 was a Knight Commander of the Order. He was admitted as a member on 28th September, 1881.

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Notable Irish Members (Historic): Bernard J O'Flaherty

Bernard J. O'Flaherty, was appointed a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre in November 1912. He died in March, 1929 aged 64. A solicitor, his firm was subsequently incorporated into Messrs. Kirwan and Kirwan. He was also a member of Ennisorthy Town Commissioners.

Notable Irish Members (Historic): Msgr. Joseph Burke

A native of Knocklong, Co. Limerick, Msgr Joseph Burke (1858-1939), was ordained for Salford Diocese in 1885. He founded the Salesian College in Bolton.

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Notable Irish Members (Historic): Delia Murphy Kiernan

In 1946, Mrs. Delia Murphy Kiernan (1902-1971), a graduate of University College, Galway and wife of the Irish charge d’affaires to the Holy See, Dr. Thomas J. Kiernan, was awarded, 'ex-urbe', the rank of Dame Commander.  She was known as “the singing blackbird”.

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