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Notable Irish Members (Historic): Delia Murphy Kiernan

In 1946, Mrs. Delia Murphy Kiernan (1902-1971), a graduate of University College, Galway and wife of the Irish charge d’affaires to the Holy See, Dr. Thomas J. Kiernan, was awarded, 'ex-urbe', the rank of Dame Commander.  She was known as “the singing blackbird”.

Born in Co. Mayo she was resident in Rome during the years of the Second World War. The Kiernans were held in high esteem, not least for helping raise the profile of Irish religious orders working in the Eternal City. 

Mrs. Kiernan also involved herself in assisting Msgr Hugh O’Flaherty (the Scarlet Pimpernel) in helping escaped prisoners of war during the occupation of Rome [1943-44].  Dr. Kiernan, who was made a Knight Grand Cross of St. Sylvester in January, 1946, later became the first Irish High Commissioner to Australia, and served as ambassador in West Germany, Canada and the United States, all missions accompanied by Dame Delia.