Over the last century there have been numerous knights and dames invested into the Constantinian Order from the island of Ireland including members of the old Gaelic nobility, the Order of Malta and the clergy as well as parliamentarians, leading businessmen and academics.
The first known Irishman to be invested into the Order was Benedict Hervey, a Jacobite living in exile in Naples, who was appointed a Knight of Grace in 1728. His son Charles was also invested as a Knight Grand Cross of Grace in 1759. William Power, also of Irish Jacobite origin, and a friend of Count O’Mahony (a Knight of Illustrious Royal Order of St Januarius) were made a Knight of Grace in 1750. Another important Irish knight was General Balthasar Nihell who was admitted in 1762 as a Knight of Justice and later promoted to Knight Grand Cross of Justice in 1785.
The late Denis O’Conor Don, Head of the House of Connaught, and descendant of the dynasty that ruled as High Kings of Ireland until the Anglo-Norman conquest at the end of the twelfth century, was a member. In 2004 Professor Mary McAleese, President of Ireland, was awarded the Collar of the Constantinian Order at a ceremony at Aras an Uachtaràin, and Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Bertie Ahern, TD, then President of the European Council, was also honoured.
The Delegate for Ireland is HE Sir Anthony Bailey OBE and the Vice-Delegate for Ireland is the former Taoiseach HE John Bruton. Other past and present members include former Irish Senator and Vice-Delegate Emeritus Professor Richard Conroy, the former Lieutenant of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre Michael Joseph McDonnell, former Ambassador of Ireland to the Court of James’s and the United Nations in Geneva HE Dáithi O’Ceallaígh, former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland the Rt Hon Paul Murphy, the President of the Association of Papal Orders in Ireland Professor Vincent McBrierty, the Association’s former president Donal Downes and its chancellor James McDonald and many other noteworthy individuals.
Numerous members of the Irish Association of the Order of Malta have been members of the delegation including former vice president Patrick White and former chancellors Sean Kevin Cunnane and John Igoe.
The Order’s Chief Chaplain for Ireland is the Archbishop Emeritus of Dublin, His Eminence Desmond, Cardinal Connell, who was invested into the Constantinian Order in November 2002. The Most Rev Dr Raymond Field, Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin, is a chaplain of the Delegation. Current Irish knights of the Royal Order of Francis I include businessman Sir Michael Smurfit, the former Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly, Lord Alderdice of Knock, former Irish Senator Donal Lydon and Judge Patrick Clyne.
Across the island of Ireland, numerous charitable initiatives have been adopted and supported. In Northern Ireland the Forthspring Inter-Community Group in Belfast and Co-operation Ireland which both work to bridge the divided communities in the province, have been supported by the Delegation. In the Irish Republic, the DePaul Trust of Ireland and Citywise, which seeks to educate children and teenagers who have dropped out of society, are among the charitable bodies which have been supported by the Delegation.