Bring Me to the Head of St. Oliver Plunkett . .

We were happily cruising through the Irish countryside listening to Madonna's Evita turned way up on the car stereo when Salli discovered a tiny blurb in a local travel brochure. Miles (or kilometers in EU parlance) away was the town of Drogheda, a place noted for its part in The Thornbirds, as well as its special reliquary.

OK, I admit it. I'm morbid and twisted. And worse yet, my entire family is too. I mean who else do you know who has driven hours out of their way just to see the severed and mummified head of a saint? But then again, why do so many others go out of their way to pay homage to this grotesque, shriveled, and barely recognizable leathery artifact? I mean, our intentions were purely weird. What excuse do all these other people have? And more so, why did a bunch of people bother to preserve and display such a relic?

Roll over the 'P' to see St. Oliver.

It was here in Drogheda that the idealist Father Oliver Plunkett (1629-1681), fresh from his Catholic religious training in England decided to establish the first integrated Catholic and Protestant school. Unfortunately, his timing was off since the English Royals were at that time highly distrustful of the power of the Pope, especially in Ireland. As a result, Plunkett was imprisoned for allegedly being involved in a spurious "Popish Plot," deported to London and hanged. As was the custom of the time his body was quartered and burned. But his supporters managed to rescue his head before the flames had completed their task. After that, his head and parts made a journey all over Europe to be seen by the faithful before finally settling in a specially built gold gilt humidor in the church of St. Peter's Church in downtown Drogheda. He was bestowed sainthood in 1920.

We parked the car and made our way into the church, tip toed up to the front and marveled at this relic. Mute, desiccated, mummified and grotesque, this "treasure," speaks volumes about religions, mankind, history and tourism. We lit a candle as we contemplated all this. And we, and you, were there to record the event.

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