Opus Dei in Ireland

Opus Dei is a Catholic institution working in more than 60 countries around the world. It has been in Ireland since 1947.

Opus Dei in Ireland
Opus Dei - Opus Dei in Ireland (TrentStrhorm)

At Saint Josemaría Escrivá’s request, José Ramón Madurga, a Spanish engineer, came to Ireland in October 1947 to begin the work of Opus Dei. He did a postgraduate degree in University College Dublin (UCD) and then worked with the Electricity Supply Board (ESB).

The first Irish vocation to Opus Dei was Cormac Burke from Sligo town. A UCD graduate in modern languages, he was later called to the bar and lectured in Trinity College Dublin and in St Patrick’s College, Maynooth. He explained the spirit of Opus Dei to his sister Nora, an Arts student in UCD at the time. In 1948 she became the first Irish woman to join.

Cormac was ordained in 1955, becoming the first Irish priest of Opus Dei. After working in the USA, England and Kenya for many years, Monsignor Burke was appointed a judge of the Holy Roman Rota in 1986. He retired from the Rota in 2000 and now works again in Kenya.

One of the first apostolic undertakings of Opus Dei in Ireland was Nullamore University Residence in Dartry, Dublin. The official opening in 1954 was attended by the Taoiseach of the time, John A Costello; the Leader of the Opposition, Eamon de Valera; the President of UCD, Professor Michael Tierney; the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Alfie Byrne; and the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr John Charles McQuaid.

Saint Josemaría Escrivá had a great love for Ireland. He used to recall how, as a young boy, he prayed especially for religious freedom for Irish Catholics as he read about the Easter Rising and the War of Independence. In 1959 he spent some days in Dublin and Galway, encouraging the development of apostolic undertakings. While in Dublin he stayed in Ely University Centre on Hume Street, just off St Stephen’s Green.

Following the success of Nullamore (www.nullamore.com), other student halls of residence were set up: Gort Ard (Salthill, Galway; www.gortard.com) in 1958; Ely (Hume Street, Dublin; www.elyuc.com) in 1959; Glenard (Clonskeagh, Dublin; www.glenard.org) in 1962; Ros Geal (University Road, Galway; www.rosgeal.org) in 1972; Cleraun (Mount Merrion, Dublin; www.cleraun.com in 1982; Castleville (Castletroy, Limerick; www.castleville.ie) in 1985. Activities for students in Dublin are also held in study centres such as Carraigburn (Donnybrook, Dublin).

Over the years, with the help of many others, members have also set up a variety of youth clubs. These include the Nullamore (www.nullamore.com) and Glenbeag (www.glenbeag.net) youth clubs in Milltown, Dublin and the Anchor Youth Club (www.anchoryouthcentre.com) in Artane on Dublin’s northside, which started in 1966. These clubs offer a wide range of activities for young people. Catering and educational centres such as Lismullin Hospitality Services Centre, Navan (www.lismullinculinary.com) offer courses in cookery and home arts.

Members of Opus Dei are also involved in a number of educational and social programmes to assist the underprivileged. But the key activity of Opus Dei is to give spiritual formation to people who are interested in developing their faith and putting it into practice in everyday life.

A wide variety of personal development courses and weekend retreats are organised throughout the year in Lismullin Conference Centre (www.lismullin.ie) at Tara, Co. Meath.

Further information on Opus Dei and its activities can be obtained by contacting the information office in Dublin (Tel: 01-661 4949; Fax: 01-676 1137; Email: info@opusdei.ie).

The Regional Vicar in Ireland is Rev Justin Gillespie.