During the Korean War 1950 – 1953 the Korean people endured unimaginable sufferings and losses. At the beginning of that Conflict, seven young Columban priests opted to stay with their parishioners and not abandon them in their pain and loss. These men paid the ultimate price and joined countless martyrs of the young Korean church.

This year, 2020, is the 70th Anniversary of their deaths.

The Columbans who died in 1950 were:

Fr. Tony Collier  Fr. Tony Collier (37), from Clogherhead, Co. Louth who was killed on the 27th of June 1950. Tony was the first foreigner to die in the Korean conflict. 
Jim McGinn Fr. Jim Maginn (38), of Newcastle, Co Down (born in Butte, Montana to Irish parents) who had been missing in Korea since June 1950, was killed on 4th July of that year
 Fr. Patrick Reilly  Fr. Patrick Reilly (34) from Drumraney, Co Westmeath, who was killed on the 29th of August 1950
Monsignor Patrick Brennan Monsignor  Patrick Brennan (49) from Chicago, of Irish parents, who was killed on the 24th of September 1950 at the Massacre at Taejon
 Fr. Tommie Cusack Fr. Tommie Cusack (39) from Ballycotton, Liscannor, Co Clare who was killed on the 24th of September 1950 at the Massacre at Taejon
 Fr. Jack O'Brien   Fr. Jack O’Brien (31) from Donamon, Co Roscommon, who was killed on the 24th of September 1950 at the Massacre at Taejon
 Fr. Frank Canavan

Fr. Frank Canavan (35) from Headford, Co Galway who died in a prison camp in North Korea on the 6th of December 1950.

On December 4th he told Monsignor Tom Quinlan, who was in the prison camp with him, “I will be having Christmas dinner in Heaven"


The names of these seven young priests were inscribed in the Book of Martyrs presented to Pope John Paul 11 at a ceremony in the Coliseum in Rome in 2000 commemorating Martyrs of the 20th Century.

On Wednesday August 28th 2013 the Cause of the Seven Columban priests was opened – they are among the eighty – one Modern Martyrs of Korea.

Every Sunday throughout the Diocese of Seoul at the beginning of Mass the people offer a prayer for the beatification of the Columban Martyrs.

The prayer on their prayer card reads…

Prayer for the Columban Priest Martyrs

God, in the midst of ideological conflict and the wound of division, when all the rivers and mountains were engulfed in the gunfire of war, we thank you for sending good shepherds, faithful witnesses to show us that love is greater than hate.In your mercy, bless your faithful servants and through their intercession hear our prayers. St Columban Pray for us. Amen.



Deacon Pat Flanagan, himself a native of Liscannor, wrote this booklet dedicated to the lives of the Seven Columban Martyrs.

To read or download the booklet please click on the image.