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)

Opus Dei began in Ireland in 1947. Its founder, St Josemaría Escrivá, always had a special affection for Ireland, and his successor, Blessed Alvaro del Portillo, recalled how St Josemaría prayed a lot for Ireland at the time of the 1916 Easter Rising: “He read in the newspapers about your struggle for the faith and for the freedom of your country. How much he prayed for you!”

In 1947, St Josemaría asked a young Spanish engineer and member of “The Work”, José Ramón Madurga, if he would like to move to Ireland to spread the message of Opus Dei. José Ramón agreed to move here and began postgraduate studies at University College Dublin (UCD), where he met Cormac Burke from Sligo, who was studying law and modern languages. On getting to know the lay spirituality of Opus Dei, Cormac decided to ask for admission. He was ordained some years later. Nora Burke, his sister, also got to know Opus Dei and felt that she too had a vocation to strive for holiness in everyday life. She also joined, becoming the first female member of Opus Dei in the country.

José Ramón and Cormac set about establishing the first educational undertaking of Opus Dei in Ireland, Nullamore University Residence in Dublin. This hall of residence was set up with the aim of helping young people develop their personal and academic talents, and to help students see these talents as a means of serving their families, friends and society as a whole. 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.

Seven decades later, the work of Opus Dei in Ireland, North and South, continues to grow, as does the number of people it serves from all walks of life, young and old, married and single, Catholic and non-Catholic, laity and diocesan priests, with the aim of helping each individual strive for holiness in their everyday lives.

In 2007, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin entrusted the parish of Our Lady Queen of Peace, Merrion Road, Dublin, to priests of the Opus Dei Prelature.


Unveiling of plaque in 2009 to commemorate St Josemaría’s visit to Cahir:

Reflecting on St Josemaría and Ireland (2009; 16 minutes)