FR KEVIN Reynolds, the priest at the centre of the RTE Prime Time defamation case, has spoken of his enormous gratitude to his County Limerick family and supporters, who warmly greeted him at the wedding of his Cappamore nephew last Friday – a day after he was awarded damages.
Fr Reynolds celebrated the mass of Kevin Madden, Cappamore and Helen O’Halloran, Tralee. Speaking to the Limerick Leader, the defamed Longford priest said he had been inundated with requests for interviews from journalists but “he couldn’t turn down a Limerickman” due to the support he got from Cappamore and the county.
Fr Reynolds’ sister, Ann, is married to Tom Madden, well known proprietors of the Bridge Inn in Cappamore. A large contingent from the East Limerick village attended the wedding ceremony in Tralee, where Fr Reynolds said: “I’m more nervous today than I was in the High Court”.
Fr Reynolds said that Tom and Ann and their children David, Michael, Kevin, Thomas and Joan gave him “rock solid support” throughout his harrowing ordeal.
“They were all fantastic. Ann and Tom were both in Dublin with me last week at the High Court action along with some of my nephews. The sons are mighty men. Nearly all the family came up on several days - they were marvellous,” said Fr Reynolds.
More than 500,000 people watched the Prime Time Investigates programme entitled A Mission To Prey, which showed reporter Aoife Kavanagh confronting the priest after a first Holy Communion mass to falsely accuse him of sexually abusing a teenage girl in Kenya in 1982 and fathering a child by the woman before abandoning them both.
As a result Fr Reynolds was obliged to stand down from his ministry and was removed as the parish priest of Ahascragh. Fr Reynolds told the Leader that when this happened his thoughts turned to the wedding of Kevin Madden and another niece.
“When you are out of the priesthood and out of ministry I would not have been allowed to solemnise the wedding - that would have been an awful blow. Now thanks to be God I’m restored to ministry. I’m back in my parish and I feel a hundred times better - a great burden has been lifted. I’ve very happy and thanks to be God,” said Fr Reynolds.
Before and after the wedding mass and at the reception, Cappamore people including the parish priest, Fr Dick Browne and Fr Liam Ryan, shook his hand and wished him the very best.
“You can tell the people of Cappamore from me they are mighty people. They contacted me to offer their support and I met them at the wedding. I thanked Fr Ryan for making the wonderful effort of being down in Tralee,” said Fr Reynolds.
*A full version of this story appeared in the Limerick Leader edition dated November 26, 2011