The Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty Monument
Throughout its history, Killarney has produced its fair share of influential people, but perhaps none more deserving of recognition than Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty, the heroic priest who helped saved thousands of lives in Nazi-occupied Rome during the Second World War. Credited with saving more than 6,500 people from certain death, Monsignor O’Flaherty became known as the Pimpernel of the Vatican and his achievements have inspired several books and films such as ‘The Scarlet and the Black’ where he was was played by Gregory Peck.
Monsignor O’Flaherty was educated locally in the Presentation school, then he attended secondary school at Mungret College, Limerick and completed his education in Rome. He later became a Vatican Monsignor and went on to work in the Holy Office. Along with others, he was responsible for organising the ‘Rome escape line’. This was an underground movement, similar to the French Resistance which aimed to ensure safe passage out of the city for allied Prisoners of War, Jews and Anti Fascists hidden in safe houses and monasteries.
Sculpted by Alan Ryan Hall, this beautiful, 2 meter tall bronze statue was unveiled on Mission Road in 2013. The sculpture depicts the Monsignor during World War II, striding defiantly across St Peter’s Square in Rome. The ceremony was attend by official representatives from all over the world, along with a number of proud living relatives of Monsignor O’Flaherty.