NORMALLY statues are erected for people after they die but a town in El Salvador have made one for a Limerick priest who is very much alive.
Fr Alfred Loughran, a Franciscan priest originally from Garryowen, has served for over 40 years in El Salvador and other Central European countries.
Bullets have come through his window; he has replaced priests that were killed and has met guerilla leaders during the Civil War that claimed 80,000 lives.
Speaking from Gotera in El Salvador Fr Alfredo, as he is known over there, said generally statues are erected for people who have passed away.
“I think they thought I was going to die quite young. They’re sort of disappointed!” he joked. They called the square in front of the church “Plaza Cultural Fray Alfredo O Lochrainn” in his honour as well.
“They passed a resolution in the town hall and the mayor decided to honour me with a statue. The Bishop came for the ceremony and blessed the statue. I think he was jealous you know!” laughed the 70 year-old.
“I joke about it a lot because there are other fellows a lot more qualified to have statues than me. I think it was mostly because I was the longest serving priest to be here from Ireland and probably ever in the parish.
“I pray for the poor fellow out in the square because we have had such heavy rain, thunder and lighting. I was going to go out with an umbrella a few times!”
Fr Loughran, whose birth names were Colm Ignatius, is from a proud Limerick family. They are well known from running Siopa Rothar and Hacketts barber shops. Fr Loughran’s brother Ciaran is a retired Christian Brother who served in Liberia and Sierra Leone and his nephew Fr Terry Loughran in based in Cappagh.
Fr Loughran arrived in Gotera in 1968 aged 26 after being ordained in Rome.
“I was here until 1989. They were all the war years which were very, very difficult. We were right in the centre of a very conflicted area.