Martin moves priests out of Maynooth over ‘strange goings-on’

Catholic Archbishop of Dublin decides to send seminary students to Rome instead

Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin says the national seminary in Maynooth ‘seems like a quarrelsome place with anonymous letters being sent around’. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / The Irish Times

The Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has decided to cease sending trainee priests from the diocese to St Patrick's College, Maynooth because of a worrying "atmosphere" at the national seminary.

Asked about the decision of the Dublin archdiocese to send its three seminary students next autumn to the Irish Pontifical College in Rome rather than to Maynooth, Dr Martin told The Irish Times: "I wasn't happy with Maynooth...

“There seems to an atmosphere of strange goings-on there, it seems like a quarrelsome place with anonymous letters being sent around.

“I don’t think this is a good place for students,” he said. “However, when I informed the president of Maynooth of my decision, I did add ‘at least for the moment’.”


The Archbishop’s decision to send his students to Rome comes after anonymous letters were circulated in clerical circles about student activities in Maynooth, including an allegation that some seminarians had used a dating app.

Dr Martin made no comment on those reports, saying only that he himself had a “certain bonding” with Rome and that he felt the Irish college there offered “a good grounding” in the Catholic faith.

Before being appointed Archbishop of Dublin in 2004, Dr. Martin had worked in the Holy See in Rome for 25 years, mainly at the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

Monsignor Ciaran O’Carroll, rector of the Irish college, confirmed that the three Dublin seminarians would be “tranferring” to Rome, adding this was very much a normal practise since this was the time of year when bishops nominated students for the college.

Last year, there were 12 Irish seminarians studying at the college along with 38 priests, who resided in the college but who were pursuing post-graduate studies at some of Rome’s pontifical universities.

Most of the men who present themselves for formation at the Irish college tend to be mature students, men with a “late vocation” whilst the priests doing post-graduate studies come from 18 different countries, from Romania to Peru and from Chile to South Korea.

People who know the college well suggest that the international nature of the college inmates means that it offers possibilities and opportunties that might be lacking in Ireland whilst it is also a fair reflection of the “universality” of the Catholic Church.

Maynooth currently has around 60 seminarians in residence.