Patrick O'Donnell (cardinal)

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Patrick Cardinal O'Donnell
Cardinal, Archbishop of Armagh
Primate of All Ireland
Term ended1927
PredecessorMichael Logue
SuccessorJoseph MacRory
Other post(s)Coadjutor Archbishop of Armagh 1922-24; Bishop of Raphoe 1888-1922
Ordination1880 (Priest)
Consecration25 March 1888 (Bishop)
Created cardinal14 December 1925
RankCardinal priest
Personal details
Born28 November 1856
Kilraine, Glenties, County Donegal, Ireland
Died22 October 1927(1927-10-22) (aged 70)
Carlingford, County Louth, Ireland
BuriedSt Patrick's Cathedral Cemetery, Armagh
DenominationRoman Catholic Church
Alma materMaynooth College
Catholic University of Ireland
MottoFratres in Unum

Patrick Joseph Cardinal O'Donnell (28 November 1856 – 22 November 1927) was an Irish senior prelate of the Catholic Church. He served as Archbishop of Armagh from 1924 until his death, and was made a cardinal in 1925.[1]

Early life[edit]

Patrick Joseph O'Donnell was born in Glenties, County Donegal on 28 November 1855,[2] a son of Daniel O'Donnell, a farmer, and his wife, Mary (née Breslin). He was one of nine children in a family that claimed descent from the O'Donnells of Tyrconnell.[3]

O'Donnell was ordained a priest on 29 June 1880.[4] He attended Secondary School in Letterkenny, and later studied at the Catholic University of Dublin (1873–75) and at Maynooth. He was ordained to the priesthood on 29 June 1880. In that same year, he was appointed to the staff of St Patrick's College, Maynooth, holding the chairs of Dogmatic and Moral Theology. In 1884, he became dean of the revived post-graduate Dunboyne Institute and in 1885 was awarded his STD. From his desk in Maynooth, he poured out a continuous stream of articles on moral theology and canon law.[5]

Church leadership[edit]

He was appointed Bishop of Raphoe on 26 February 1888, making him the youngest bishop in the world at the time and was consecrated by Michael Logue on 3 April 1888 in Letterkenny.

O'Donnell undertook, and completed, a prodigious building project in his diocese - the superbly-sited neo-Gothic (with Romanesque details) cathedral, overlooked by a house for bishop and clergy (1891–1901); St Eunan's Diocesan College (1906); the Presentation Monastery and Loreto schools and an extension to Loreto Convent, all in Letterkenny.

He was appointed coadjutor Archbishop of Armagh on 14 January 1922 and succeeded Cardinal Michael Logue on 19 November 1924. On 14 December 1925, Pope Pius XI made O'Donnell a Cardinal.[6]

O'Donnell motto[edit]

As a Cardinal, visiting the Holy See and the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican, he would have seen the motto In Hoc Signo Vinces that was earlier adopted by the O'Donnell Earls of Tyrconnell in 1603–14. The motto appears prominently placed on the Scala Regia as a motto on a sculpted ribbon unfurled with a passion cross to its left, beneath a window overlooking St. Peter's Square.

An armorial achievement with a cross on the shield and this motto were recorded during the reign of King James VI & I by the Ulster King of Arms as those of Rory O'Donnell, 1st Earl of Tyrconnell,[7] based on the earlier adoption of the cross and motto by the O'Donnell rulers, as described in the Lebhar Inghine i Dhomhnaill.[8]

Final years[edit]

A statue outside of St. Eunan's Cathedral, Letterkenny, in memory of the Cardinal

Cardinal O'Donnell died on 22 October 1927 in Carlingford, County Louth.


St Connell's Museum in his home town of Glenties has a display about his life.


  1. ^ Miranda, Salvador. "Patrick O'Donnell". The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church. Retrieved 23 June 2009.
  2. ^ Canning, Bernard (1988). Bishops of Ireland 1870-1987. Ballyshannon: Donegal Democrat. pp. 44–45. ISBN 1870963008.
  3. ^ Dictionary of Irish Biography, Volume 7, pages 397-99, Cambridge University Press and the Royal Irish Academy.
  4. ^ Canning, Bernard (1988). Bishops of Ireland 1870-1987. Ballyshannon: Donegal Democrat. p. 156. ISBN 1870963008.
  5. ^ Ó Baoighill, Pádraig S. Cardinal Patrick O’Donnell 1856-1927, published by Foilseacháin Chró na mBothán, Fintown, County Donegal, 2008; ISBN 978-0-9556702-1-3
  6. ^ Ó Baoighill, Pádraig S. Cardinal Patrick O'Donnell 1856-1927, published by Foilseacháin Chró na mBothán, Fintown, County Donegal, 2008 ISBN 978-0-9556702-1-3
  7. ^ Manuscript 34 of the Genealogical Office under the Chief Herald of Ireland
  8. ^ Lebhar Inghine i Dhomhnaill (The Book of O'Donnell's Daughter), a medieval Gaelic manuscript finished in the early 1600s in the Irish Franciscan College in Louvain, and lodged today in the Bibliotheque Royale in Brussels (Ms reference 6131-3)


  • Seventy Years Young, Memoires of Elizabeth, Countess of Fingall, by Elizabeth Burke Plunkett, Lady Fingall. First published by Collins of London in 1937; 1991 edition published by The Lilliput Press, Dublin 7, Ireland ISBN 0 946640 74 2.[1]

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by Bishop of Raphoe
Succeeded by
Preceded by Archbishop of Armagh
and Primate of All Ireland

Succeeded by
Preceded by Cardinal-Priest of Santa Maria della Pace
Succeeded by
  1. ^ Elizabeth Burke Plunkett, a Burke from Moycullen, County Galway, who married the 11th Earl of Fingall, should not be confused with Elizabeth O'Donnell, 1st Countess of Fingal (see page 226 for reference to Cardinal O'Donnell)