Have you ever seen a decayed, shrunken head in real life? That’s what I found in St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Drogheda, Ireland.
The church appeared like most other churches with tiled floors and wooden pews scattered with devout heads bowed in prayer. But off to the left there is an unusual shrine dedicated to Saint Oliver Plunkett, a Catholic bishop who was hanged for treason by the English in 1681. Most of him lies buried in England, but his head, shrunken and stark, is encased in a glass enclosure in St Peter’s Catholic Church in Drogheda.
Upon entering the Church, my eyes were immediately drawn to a glass case containg the head of St. Oliver Plunkett, which is in remarkably good condition. The head is not just a bare skull. The teeth are still intact and hairs can still be seen on his chin and head.
I walked in and paid my respects to Saint Oliver by lighting a candle, saying a prayer, and snapping a few pictures of the unusual scene. The only appropriate way to follow up a day of shrunken heads in Irish churches is to find a pub and drink excessive amounts of Guinness, which is exactly what I did.