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Tributes paid to Bishop Casey

Wednesday, 15th March, 2017 1:01am

Tributes have been paid to former Bishop of Galway Eamonn Casey, who will be laid to rest at Galway Cathedral tomorrow, Thursday.

Bishop Casey (89) passed away in a nursing home in Clare on Monday. His remains will be brought to Galway Cathedral today, Wednesday, for 7pm. His funeral Mass will take place tomorrow at 2pm in Galway Cathedral, with his remains interred afterwards in the Cathedral crypt.

The Kerry native became Bishop of Galway in 1976 and served for 16 years, when he was instrumental in setting up Galway Social Services, among other initiatives. He also hosted Pope John Paul II when he visited Galway in 1979.

In May 1992, he resigned as Bishop of Galway when it emerged that in 1974, when he was Bishop of Kerry, he had fathered a son, Peter, with American woman Annie Murphy. It created huge controversy at the time, with Ms Murphy giving an interview on RTE’s Late Late Show. After his resignation, Bishop Casey left Ireland to become a missionary priest in Ecuador.

The family of the former Bishop released a statement following his death on Monday afternoon, “On behalf of his son, Peter, his brother, Father Micheál, his sister, Ita Furlong, nieces and nephews, grand-nieces and grand-nephews, great-grand nieces and great-grand nephews, we wish to acknowledge the priestly work of Bishop Eamonn, especially in the pursuit of social justice for the marginalised, as evidenced by his work with Shelter in London in the 1950s and 1960s and later with his involvement in the setting up and development of Trócaire.”

“Notwithstanding the demands on his time, Bishop Eamonn was a great source of love and support, making himself available to celebrate and to empathise with us in all our important family occasions.”

They thanked those who supported him in the past, in particular “the clergy and the people of the dioceses of Galway and Kerry, the Irish community in London, his many friends in Limerick and throughout the country and abroad.”

They also thanked the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, the management and staff of Carrigoran Nursing Home, Newmarket-On-Fergus, Co. Clare, where the former Bishop resided since 2011 until his death. Prior to that, he had lived in Shanaglish, Co. Galway.

Reverend Canon Michael McLoughlin, Diocesan Administrator of the Diocese of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora offered his condolences to the former Bishop’s family adding, “Their loss is great and deeply felt and I assure them of our prayers and support, both now and in the days that lie ahead.

“Their loss is also our loss. Bishop Eamonn has been part of our lives for many decades and today it is natural that we would reflect and remember. And there are many memories!”

He spoke of Bishop Casey’s work on homelessness. “When we witness homelessness, poverty and inequality in our society we remember with renewed respect his initiative, his tremendous work and his tenacious spirit among Irish emigrants in England, which ensured for so many the dignity of shelter and a place they could call home.”

Canon McLoughlin added that Bishop Casey’s “indefatigable and boundless energy, and his ability to lift and inspire generosity in people, saw the building of churches for a growing population at Barna, Seamus Quirke Road, Headford Road, Ballybane, Knocknacarra, Maree and adjacent to the NUI, Galway campus.”

Among his work in Galway was the establishment of Chaplaincies to respond to the needs of members of the Travelling Community and of prisoners at home and overseas.

“Bishop Eamonn brought blessings to many people. But to be human is to be both blessed and to be flawed. Some of his actions caused great hurt and the circumstances giving rise to his resignation in 1992 have been the subject of ongoing analysis. Bishop Eamonn asked for forgiveness from all those that he hurt and he went on to minister in both Ecuador and England before returning to Ireland to retire in January 2006,” added the Canon.

President Michael D Higgins also said the former bishop should be remembered for “his work on homelessness and housing with the Irish emigrant community in Britain.”

President Higgins stated that “other aspects of his life were the source of pain to others, for which Bishop Casey has apologised and expressed his deep regret, and he himself had the experience of pain visited on him in later life.”

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

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