Plunkett, Michael (1652–1727), priest and vicar general of Meath, was born probably in Co. Meath. Details of his early life are very scarce but he was related to the earl of Fingal and was a cousin of Oliver Plunkett (qv), later archbishop of Armagh. He entered into minor holy orders in 1670 and received religious instruction from Oliver Plunkett, becoming his secretary in 1673. Towards the end of 1673 he became involved in the dispute between his cousin and the turbulent Franciscan friar Anthony Daly, which had come about due to the primate's support for the Dominicans. On one occasion a group of outlaws was sent by Daly to the house of the vicar general in Armagh, where Oliver and Michael Plunkett were staying. The clerics were robbed at sword-point and were lucky to escape with their lives. The leader of the gang later confessed that he had been set on by Daly, who promised him absolution if he killed the archbishop.
In 1674 he was ordained at Ardpatrick, Co. Louth, and then travelled to Rome (1676) to continue his studies at the Irish College. He carried letters of recommendation from Oliver Plunkett to members of Propaganda, which also described conditions in Ireland. Following his arrival in Rome he was empowered to act as the agent of the Irish bishops. This was originally meant to be a temporary appointment but he continued to serve as agent until 1687. He received letters from Oliver Plunkett, who had been arrested; these remain in the archive of Propaganda and are remarkably concise accounts of the archbishop's trial. The last letter that Oliver Plunkett sent from Newgate prison to Rome on 22 June 1681 (old style) was addressed to him.
In 1687 he returned to Ireland with Dr Fergus Lea, having being entrusted by Innocent XI with the proxies for Dominic Maguire (qv) and Patrick Russell (qv), appointing them as archbishops of Armagh and Dublin respectively. Under James II (qv) he served as a master in chancery of Ireland and was appointed parish priest of Dunboyne in 1690. After the death of Bishop Patrick Tyrrell (qv) in 1692, he was appointed vicar general of the diocese of Meath and continued to govern the diocese until 1713, when he resigned following the appointment of Luke Fagan (qv) as bishop of Meath. In 1704 he was registered as being parish priest of Ratoath and Rathbeggan and was then living at Ratoath. He also ministered to the parishes of Greenoge and Kilbride, and during the frequent ‘priest hunts’ of the penal era was forced to go into hiding or flee to another part of the country. Some members of the local protestant gentry also helped to hide him from the authorities. He died in August 1727, aged 75, and was buried in the graveyard of the ruined church of Killegland, near Ashbourne, Co. Meath. The gravestone is still visible and, due to his connection with Oliver Plunkett and his own reputation for piety, his grave later became a focal point for pilgrims.