Archbishop McGettigan

Daniel (called Dónal when he was a  boy) McGettigan was the son on Manus McGettigan and Mary Boyle (or O'Boyle) and was born on 15th of November 1815 in the townland of Drumlackagh, Carrigart, Co. Donegal in the parish of Mevagh and diocese of Raphoe. He was annointed Bishop of Raphoe in 1865 and Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland in 1870. He was the brother of Afric McGettigan who married George Denniston.

He was educated at the Kildare Street Society School in Mevagh and studied classics from the age of 15 at a private school near Mountcharles, Co Donegal and later at Derry Academy - which was presided over by a Presbyterian clergyman. From there he went to Clonard in  Co. Meath, a foundation then famous as a finishing school for aspirants to the priesthood who would later go on to Maynooth.

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He matriculated in 1833 and entered the Catholic Seminary at St. Patrick''s College, Maynooth, Co. Kildare. He then spent a year at "the Dunboyne Establishment" and was ordained on 26th of May, 1839. He undertook post-graduate studies in 1839-40 and was then  apointed as curate in Inver, Co. Donegal in 1840. He was appointed administrator in Letterkenny later in 1840. In 1854 he was appointed Vicar General of  the diocese of Raphoe. He spent 10 years in the parish of Kilbarron (Ballyshannon area) until 1861. In the meantime, he was consecrated titular Bishop of Gera in partibus on the 18th of May, 1856 and coadjutor with right of succession to Raphoe - assisting  his namesake Dr. Patrick McGettigan. He succeeded to the Bishopric on 1 May 1860. Despite failing health at the age of 55 he yielded to a personal appeal from the Pope and was appointed to the Primatial See of  Armagh on March 11th, 1870. He remained there for seventeen years.

McGettigan served as a one of the 693 Council Fathers to Pope Pius IX during the First Vatican Council.  Whiel there he was said to have been the almost unanimous choice  of the Irish bishops to fill the vacant Armagh See. He refused to accept a red hat from both Pope Pius IX and Pope Leo XIII - he did not feel worthy. McGettigan was the last Primate of All Ireland not to be a Prince of the Church.

His death on Dec 3rd, 1887 resulted from paralysis. He is buried at St. Patricks Cemetery, Armagh. His successor in Armagh was Michael Logue, also an native of Mevagh parish. Speaking of the death of Archbishop McGettigan, he explained: "Daniel McGettigan was a  man with a big and good heart, the poor primate  was his own executor,  he left three small legacies to the poor schools of three Convents, a  small annuity to his old servant and his books, furniture and  pontificals to me. This was his whole will and whether there be means  to meet even these little legacies is not certain."

Geraldine McGettigan adds:

Note that no family members were named in his will or received anything.

While Curate in Letterkenny he became  involved in the ''Glenswilly decree'' of 1845 when he refused to breach a confidence in a restitution case - outside the seal of confession - and  was arrested and was confined in the country jail in Lifford. He was subsequently conveyed to Newgate Prison, Dublin. Before his case came to trial a defect in the warrant of arrest was detected by his counsel, Daniel O''Connell (The Liberator), and he was released. On his  appointment as Vicar General of Raphoe the Sacra Congregatio de Propaganda Fide made a note to the effect that he was not related to the then Bishop of Raphoe, Patrick McGettigan.

 According to Hugh McLaughlin:

"That the Sacred Congregation Propaganda Fide would note that Archbishop Daniel McGettigan was no relation to Bishop Dr Patrick McGettigan is easily explained. In Canon Law, there were, and still are, rules against nepotism. If they had been related, some form of exemption for his appointment would have had to be issued (but I do not know by whom although I think it would have been the Secretary of Propaganda, at that time His Eminence Giacomo Filippo Cardinal Fransoni).

In addition, since he was to be appointed Vicar General there was an obvious increase in his chances of being selected for episcopal office. If he were to be advanced thus then the requirement for an exemption would become a matter for the Pope. However, since it was now clearly noted that they were not related, if he were to be made bishop at some future point then there would have been no question of worrying the Pope with that particular matter (excepting, of course, that the documents relating to his nomination as bishop would clearly indicate that they were not related)."