Born: 08 October 1566, Youghal, County Cork
Entered: 08 December 1598, Santiago de Compostela, Spain (CAST)
Died: 31 October 1602, Youghal, County Cork (Hanged Drawn and Quartered - Martyr)
◆ Fr Edmund Hogan SJ “Catalogica Chronolgica” :
He was Chief of the Clan-Colan; Commander of heavy cavalry in France; Captain of Corunna Port; Hanged Drawn and Quartered for the Catholic Faith
(cf IbIg pp89, 102, and which includes also a complete copy of Carew’s examination - 09/07/1602 - of Collins at Dunboy; Tanner’s “Martyr SJ”; Drew’s “Fasti”; IER September 1874))
Parents were a “high family” who owned the property of Labrouche (in France??). His family name was O’Callan, but he changed for humility’s sake to Collins
Age 22 entered the military profession in Europe, spending five years in the French and seven in the Spanish service. He began at Nantes for three years, then he became a dragoon with the League, for eight or nine years, then went to Spain where the King gave him a pension of twenty-five crowns per month.
About a year after he arrived in Spain, he met Fr Thomas White, Rector of Salamanca, and by his advice entered the Society. Two of his fellow novices were Richard Walsh and John Lee He Entered at Santiago de Compostela where had spent two months following an attack of the plague. After First Vows he was sent to Ireland as a companion to James Archer, who was a Chaplain to the Spanish invading force sent by Philip III of Spain. He was taken prisoner and rejected the overtures to reject his faith he was hanged (at Cork or Youghal).
Captain Slingsby, in a report of the taking of Dunboy Castle, July 1602 says “We gained the top of the vault and all the Castle upwards, and place our colours on the height thereof; the whole remainder of the war-men, being seventy-seven men, were constrained to retire into the cellars, into which we , having no descent but by a straight winding stone stairs, they defended themselves against us, and thereupon, upon promise of their lives, they offered to come forth, but not to stand to mercy; notwithstanding, immediately after, a friar, born in Youghal, Dominic Collins who had been brought up in the wars in France, and there, under the League, had been a Commander of Horse in Brittany, by them called Captain de la Broche, came forth and simply rendered himself.” (Carew, Irish State Papers, 1602, Public records Office, London). Carew to the Privy Council letter of 13 July 1602 says “In my journal sent into your Lordships by the Earl of Thomond, I mentioned three prisoners of the ward of Dunboyne (sic) which for a time I respited...the third called Dominic Collins, whom I find more open hearted than the rest (and whose examination I send enclosed) the which, although it does not merit any great favour, ye because he hath so long education in France and Spain, and that it may be that your Lordships heretofore, by some other examination, have had some knowledge of him whereby some benefit to the State may be made, I respite his execution till your further pleasure be signified unto me”
◆ Fr Francis Finegan SJ :
Son of John and Felicity O Dril ( O’Driscol or Ó Duala)
He emigrated to France in 1586 he served as a soldier under Philip Emmanuel of Lorraine who soon promoted him commander of cavalry. In 1594/95 he served in the Spanish Army until 1598 - he was with the Spanish Fleet off Portugal in March, 1597 - before Ent 08 December 1598 Compostella
1602 After First Vows on 04 February 1601 he was chosen as companion to James Archer then about to return to Ireland. Dominic sailed there in the Spanish fleet in 1602. He was in the fort of Dunboy during the siege, not as a combatant but occupied with the spiritual and corporal needs of the besieged who eventually chose him to treat for terms with the English. Taken prisoner, he was offered liberty on condition of renouncing his faith and swearing allegiance to Elizabeth 1. He was hanged at Cork, 29 October, 1602, apparently without due form of trial. From the time of his death, Brother Dominic was regarded as a true martyr for the Faith. His cause for beatification is before the Holy See. (NB All contemporary accounts state that he suffered at Cork. The story that he was martyred at Youghal is of a much later date. Details of his execution such as disembowelling and quartering are also found only in later sources).
◆ Royal Irish Academy : Dictionary of Irish Biography, Cambridge University Press online :
by David Murphy
Collins, Dominic (c.1566–1602), soldier, Jesuit, and martyr, was born in Youghal, Co. Cork, son of John Collins, previously mayor of Youghal, and Felicity Collins (née O'Dril or O'Duala). In the aftermath of the passing of the acts of supremacy and uniformity (1560) he was born at a time of increasing religious tension, as the population of his home town was being put under considerable pressure to convert to protestantism. As a child he witnessed the failed rebellion of James fitz Maurice Fitzgerald (qv) in 1579 and it is possible that he attended the Jesuit school run by Fr Goode, and later by Fr Rochford and Fr Lea, in Youghal.
Deciding on a military career on the Continent, he left Ireland in 1586 and travelled to France. He initially lived in Nantes, where he worked in an inn and, when he had accumulated some money, joined the army. Enlisting in the army of Philip Emmanuel de Vaudemont, duke of Mercoeur, he fought with the Catholic League against the huguenots in Brittany, serving for nine years and reaching the rank of captain of cavalry. He captured the chateau of Lapena in Brittany from the huguenots and was appointed by Mercoeur as its military governor. In March 1598 Mercoeur agreed terms with Henry of Navarre and Collins left the service, handing over Lapena to the Spanish general Don Juan del Aguila (qv). He moved to Spain, where he met an Irish Jesuit, Fr Thomas White (qv), at Corunna and, experiencing a change of heart of truly Ignatian proportions, he applied to enter the Society of Jesus. Due to his age and previous career, he was initially refused but was finally accepted as a brother-novice at the Jesuit College at Santiago de Compostela in late 1598. The records of the college for 1601 note that he entered in 1598, was of distinguished parentage, had been a captain of cavalry, and was past 32 years of age. In February 1601 he made his first religious profession and seven months later was appointed by his superiors to join the Irish mission, as Fr James Archer (qv) had specifically asked for him, perhaps due to his previous military experience and also his Spanish contacts.
Archer had been described by Sir George Carew (qv), president of Munster, as ‘a chief stirrer of the coals of war’ (Morrissey, Studies, 318) and was being constantly sought out by government agents. Collins's association with him was to prove dangerous. He sailed with the Spanish expedition to Ireland on 3 September 1601, one of the commanders being Don Juan del Aguila, to whom Collins had surrendered Lapena in 1598. The flotilla with which he travelled arrived late at Castlehaven due to bad weather. After the defeat of the Irish and Spanish forces at Kinsale, Collins finally met Archer in February 1602 at the castle of Gortnacloghy, near Castlehaven. When English reinforcements arrived in June 1602 he was in the party of Captain McGeoghan, which retreated to Dunboy castle. They endured a long siege, which ended on 22 June, and there is some suggestion that Collins was taken prisoner when he made an attempt to negotiate with the besiegers. When the castle finally fell, the remaining members of the garrison were immediately executed and he was one of only three prisoners taken.
He was brought to Cork, where he was imprisoned and interrogated. Tried by court martial, he was sentenced to death, the court finding that due to his arrival with the Spaniards, his association with Archer, and his presence at Dunboy he was a traitor and his life forfeit. He was not executed immediately, however, as his captors urged him to recant his religion, provide information, and also enter into their service. He steadfastly refused and in October 1602 was taken to his hometown of Youghal for execution. On 31 October he was taken to the scaffold and in a last statement exhorted the assembled crowd to remain true to their faith. Before he finished his statement, he was pushed from the ladder and hanged. It is believed that his body was taken away that night by some local people and buried secretly.
It was clear from Collins's attitude and final words that he was convinced that he was being persecuted for his religious beliefs. Carew's account of Collins's statements under interrogation support this and this fact became crucial in his cause for beatification. The Society of Jesus immediately accepted that he had been martyred, and his status as a martyr was soon generally accepted by catholics across Europe. Some miracles were later attributed to him. In 1619 David Rothe (qv), vice-primate of Ireland and later bishop of Ossory, included details of Collins's life in his De processu martyriali quodundam fidei pugilum in Hibernia, and during the next two centuries there were continued efforts to have Collins beatified. In the nineteenth century, Patrick Francis Moran (qv), vice-rector of the Irish College in Rome, promoted Collins's cause and those of the other Irish martyrs. Archbishop William Walsh (qv) of Dublin further promoted the cause, and in 1917 the apostolic process opened with 260 causes put forward for further investigation, Collins being only one of these. Further research was carried out during the terms of Archbishop John Charles McQuaid (qv) and Archbishop Dermot Ryan (qv). Much of this research was carried out by Mgr Patrick Corish, Fr Benignus Millet, OFM (1922–2006) and Fr Peter Gumpel, SJ. Finally, on 27 September 1992, Pope John Paul II beatified Dominic Collins and eighteen other Irish martyrs.
There is a portrait in oils of Dominic Collins in St Patrick's College, Maynooth. This dates from the seventeenth century and originally hung in the Irish College in Salamanca. There is a large collection of papers relating to his cause for beatification in the Jesuit archives in Dublin.
Edmund Hogan, SJ, Distinguished Irishmen of the sixteenth century (1894), 79–114; Louis McRedmond, To the greater glory: a history of the Irish Jesuits (1991); Desmond Forristal, Dominic Collins: Irish martyr, Jesuit brother (1992); Thomas Morrissey, SJ, ‘Among the Irish martyrs: Dominic Collins, SJ, in his times (1566–1602)’, Studies, lxxxi, no. 323 (autumn 1992), 313–25; information from Fergus O'Donoghue, SJ, of the Jesuit Archives, Dublin
◆ Jesuits in Ireland :
JESUITICA: Jumping Jesuits
Tavellers in the Beara Peninsula will remember the Priest’s Leap, a mountain cliff in the townland of Cummeenshrule, where (around 1600 AD) a priest on horseback escaped from pursuing soldiers by a miraculous leap, which landed him on a rock near Bantry. Was the lepper a Jesuit? One tradition claims him as James Archer SJ; another as Blessed (Brother) Dominic Collins. In view of some dating difficulties, one can only say: pie creditur – a common phrase in Latin hagiographies, meaning “It is piously believed…”!
◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 36th Year No 1 1961
THE UNVEILING OF A PLAQUE N HONOUR OF FR. DONAL O'NEILLAN, O.F.M., AND BR. DOMINIC COLLINS, S.J., MARTYRS
The old town of Youghal was en fete, gay with flags and bunting, on Sunday, 23rd October, 1960, for a unique tribute of honour to the memory of two martyred sons of the town, Fr. Donal O'Neillan, O.F.M., and Br. Dominic Collins, S.J., who gave their lives for the faith there in Elizabethan times.
There was a Solemn High Mass in the parish church at which an eloquent tribute to the martyrs was given by Fr. William Egan, P.P., Castlemartyr. The greater part of his discourse dealt with the life of Br. Dominic, as very little was known of Fr. O'Neillan. The parish priest of Youghal, Canon Sheehan, presided and with him in the Sanctuary were Fr. Celsus O'Brien, the Franciscan Provincial, and Fr. Pearse O'Higgins, who was representing Fr. Provincial. Canon Sheehan, an old Mungret man, is well-known to our Fathers who served as Chaplains in both World Wars.
After the High Mass, there was a procession through the town to the Clock Gate for the unveiling by Canon Sheehan of a commemorative plaque to the two martyrs. A big number of clergy, secular and regular, marched in the procession and there were also units of the Army, F.C.A. and Civil Defence Corps, as well as a great many of the citizens of Youghal. The music was provided by the Christian Brothers' Boys' Band and by a Pipers' Band, A. 16mm, colour-film of the commemoration is in process of development and the Organising Committee have promised to loan it for showing in our Houses.
The speakers on the platform were Canon Sheehan, who paid glowing tributes to the Society, Fr. Celsus O'Brien, who briefly traced the history of the Franciscan foundation in Youghal from its inception in 1224 and showed that both the martyrs had a common purpose, the glory of God and the welfare of the Irish people, and Fr. O'Higgins.
Fr. O'Higgins, who spoke in Irish and English, in the course of his speech said: “This is a proud day for us Irish Jesuits when we see the great honour accorded to our own Br. Dominic Collins by his fellow-towns people. Our Society has long associations with Youghal, going back to the latter part of the sixteenth century, when our Fathers established a school here and laboured zealously for the greater glory of God and the good of souls. Theirs was not a tranquil nor an easy life, for they were hunted men and lived ever in the shadow of death. But they were dedicated to their noble task and were blessed because, like their Divine Master, they suffered persecution for justice's sake. These were the men who trained Dominic Collins in his early years and it was, no doubt, the example of their zeal and heroism which inspired him in later life to emulate St. Ignatius Loyola by turning away from the glory of a distinguished military career to put on the armour of God. He proved himself indeed a true soldier of Christ and never shirked his duty, even in face of the fiercest opposition”
A recording unit from Radio Éireann was present, and a report of the proceedings was broadcast the following day in the Provincial News.
The Society was represented by the following: Frs. Andrews, Perrott, Cashman, Daniel Roche, Leahy, John Murphy and J. B. Stephenson, and by Brs. Priest, Murphy, Kavanagh, Cunningham, Brady and Fallon.
◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973
Brother Dominic Collins 1553-1602
The Irish Province of the Society of Jesus is proud to number among her list of martyrs that of one of its spiritual coadjutors, Brother Dominic Collins.
He was born in Youghal in 1553. His people were wealthy burghers of the town, good Catholics, who had their son educated in all probability at the school run by Fr Charles Leae and Robert Rochford at Youghal. Dominic became a soldier in the French and Spanish armies, rising to the rank of Captain.
Being stationed at Corunna, since famous for its memories of Sir John Moore, he had more time for reflection and decided to become a religious. He was received into the Society as a Brother, at his own unshakeable request, by Fr Thomas White at Salamanca in 1598. Having taken his vows, he was sent to Ireland as Socius to Fr James Archer, and he took part in the famous siege of Dunboy Castle.
On the surrender of Dunboy Castle, he was taken prisoner and lodged at Shandon Castle, tortured and condemned to death. He was led forward to esecution clothed in his Jesuit gown, his hands tied behind his back, all the way from Shandon Castle to his native Youghal.
On arriving at the scaffold, he burst forth into those words attributed to St Andrew “Hail Holy Cross, so long desired by me. How dear to me this hour for which I have yearned since I first put on this habit”. To the people he said “Look up to heaven and be not unworthy of your ancestors, who boldly professed the Faith. Do you too uphold it. In defence of it, I desire to give up my life today”. Thereupon, he was hanged, drawn and quartered on October 23rd 1602.
On October 23rd 1960, his fellow townsmen, proud of his name, erected a tablet to his honour, which can be seen today in the clock tower of Youghal.