A selfless and spiritual man, Blessed Dominic Collins was brutally executed for refusing to renounce his faith by the English army during the Ulster Plantation in the early 17th century.
Dominic Collins was born in 1566 to a wealthy merchant family in Youghal, County Cork. At the age of twenty Collins went to the continent; wanting to join the cavalry he spent three years working in Brittany as a servant. Once in the army, he quickly rose through the ranks to captain, before entering the service of King Philip II of Spain, where he served nine years in the Spanish army. In 1598 Collins met an Irish Jesuit priest named Thomas White, to whom he confided a desire to join the Jesuit Order. He willingly joined the noviciate in Santiago de Compostela, rather than try to enter into the priesthood. When plague struck the Jesuit College, Collins tended to the sick and dying.
Back in Ireland at this time, there was revolt against the English and Scottish planters in Ulster, and King Philip agreed to send ships to aid the Ulstermen. At the request of James Archer, an Irish Jesuit priest travelling with the Spaniards, Collins joined them, being himself a man with a distinguished military background. So in 1601 they sailed for Ireland, but after being besieged by storms on the passage over, the main Spanish force arrived on the south coast where they were decimated in the battle of Kinsale. Archer returned to Spain, while Collins remained at Dunboy Castle where he offered spiritual guidance to the remaining Irish soldiers, besieged within the castle by a much larger English force.
When the castle fell in 1602, all were immediately hanged, but for Collins and two others. After being tortured, the two remaining soldiers were executed, while Collins was brought before Baron Mountjoy, the Lord Deputy of Ireland, who tried to persuade him to join the English army and the English Church. Collins refused, and was brought back to his hometown of Youghal, where in front of a crowd he proclaimed that he was happy to die defending the Catholic Church, before being hanged, drawn and quartered. Blessed Dominic Collins was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1992.
A plaque lies to commemorate him in Youghal, County Cork, with the following inscription: Blessed Dominic Collins, Jesuit Brother, was martyred here at the North Gate on October 31st, 1602.