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Making a Martyr - The Story of Oliver Plunkett

St Peter’s Church in Drogheda Co Louth contains what has to be one of the most unsettling religious relics on display anywhere in the world. This is the head of an Irish man - Oliver Plunkett - who was hanged drawn and quartered in London in 1681. For religious catholics, the head of Plunkett, who was later declared a saint, is believed to have supernatural powers and can cure illnesses.

The story of how the body of a man executed in the most barbaric manner imaginable was transformed into one of Ireland’s most popular religious relics in the mid 20th century is intriguing. It’s wrapped up in 17th century religious wars, Catholic Emancipation and Ireland’s struggle for independence in the 20th century.

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