Finaghty, James (1614–p.1671), catholic priest and faith healer, was attached to the diocese of Elphin. During the confederate period in the 1640s, he was a supporter of the papal nuncio, Rinuccini (qv). Utilising the relics of Malachy O'Queely (qv), he achieved notoriety during the 1650s as a miracle worker and exorcist. In 1657 he came to the attention of Fr Peter Walsh (qv), who began to make enquiries into the miracles performed. In 1662 Finaghty received a pass to travel around Ireland, and on his journey he cured many people and blessed numerous wells. Huge crowds from all walks of life gathered to see him work, with many people being almost killed in the crush at a gathering in Clonsilla, near Dublin city.
When the duke of Ormond (qv) returned to Ireland as viceroy in 1662, Peter Walsh was charged with investigating the validity of the cures and exorcisms performed by Finaghty. In general, the catholic and protestant churches were against him, but public opinion was divided on the authenticity of the miracles he performed. While men such as Richard Bellings (qv) attested to the success of the cures they had received, Walsh discovered that most of those who claimed to have been cured had relapsed shortly afterwards.
In 1663 Finaghty was reportedly in London at the Portuguese ambassador's residence, where he had been summoned to cure a Portuguese lady staying with the queen. He performed a number of miracles during his time in London, although he was unable to cure the Portuguese woman. After the failure of this cure, he was escorted to Holyhead by a number of catholic gentlemen, and he returned to Ireland accompanied by a Lancashire woman, whom he claimed was possessed. At an exorcism at Lord Fingal's house shortly afterwards, he was unable to provide visible proof of the success of his exorcism. Walsh finally met Finaghty in Dublin and persuaded him to agree to a public test of his abilities. Walsh applied to Ormond for a licence to hold the trial and, in the meantime, he probably arranged for Sir William Petty (qv) and Robert Southwell (qv) to visit the priest, possibly with the intention of proving that he was a fraud. When Finaghty failed to cure Petty's short-sightedness, he left for Connacht a few days later, claiming illness, and declined to wait for the public trial. Before he left Dublin, he presented Walsh with a copy of a book of his miracles, which had been published in England.
In 1664 Finaghty was recommended for a vacant bishopric in Elphin and he was appointed vicar general of the diocese in 1666–7. Together with the vicars general of Clonfert and Kilmacduagh, he wrote to Propaganda Fide, in October 1668, stressing the need to appoint worthy prelates in Ireland. In May 1671 he was again among the list of candidates being considered for vacant Irish bishoprics. Despite receiving praise for the holiness of his life, Finaghty was not appointed, possibly because he was generally regarded as a poor administrator. Thereafter, there is no further mention of him in the records.