Tributes paid to former Bishop Eamonn Casey

Cleric served as a priest in Limerick, where he grew up

Tributes paid to former Bishop Eamon Casey

Bishop Eamonn Casey at Mass in Corpus Christi Church, Moyross in 1978, with Maurice Walsh and Canon Moran

TRIBUTES have been paid to former Bishop Eamonn Casey, who served as a priest in Limerick more than 50 years ago.

The 89-year-old former Bishop of Galway and Kerry died at a nursing home in County Clare this Monday afternoon.

He served as a curate at St John’s Cathedral between 1955 and 1960. Born in Kerry, Bishop Casey was brought up in Adare, where his father was a creamery manager.  

He attended school at St Munchin's College in the city before later joining the priesthood.

The Bishop was at the centre of a major scandal and went into exile in 1992 after it was discovered he had fathered a son with Annie Murphy. 

In a statement, the Bishop’s family said: “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 1950’s and 1960’s 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.

“We wish to thank all of 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.  

“We would like to extend a very special and sincere thank you to the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, the management and staff of Carrigoran Nursing Home, Newmarket-On-Fergus, Co Clare, whose care for Bishop Eamon was of the highest possible standard and ensured that his comfort, dignity and pastoral needs were provided for at all times.

“We respectfully ask that members of the media facilitate the privacy of the family during and after the funeral ceremonies.”

Limerick TD Niall Collins praised Bishop Casey as a “passionate and energetic church leader”.

“His work helping Irish immigrants in the UK buy homes was the foundation on which the housing charity Shelter was built, and he continued to press the case for housing with the UK Government and local authorities in the 1960s,” said Deputy Collins.

“His determination to fight poverty and injustice was not confined to Ireland and the UK, and he played an integral role in the establishment of Trócaire becoming the first Chairman of the aid agency.

“I want to extend my sympathies to Bishop Casey’s family and friends at this time, many of whom are Limerick based.”

President of Ireland Michael D Higgins said he had “heard with sadness” of the passing of the former Bishop.

“There will be many who will remember his work on homelessness and housing with the Irish emigrant community in Britain,” he said.

“As Chairman of Trócaire, he encouraged the organisation to become a leading NGO campaigning for justice as well as responding to humanitarian distress and poverty in the developing world. 

“After his attendance at the funeral of Bishop Romero who was assassinated in El Salvador, Irish awareness of the sources of conflict in Central and South America was significantly increased. 

“While serving as mayor of Galway I was asked by Bishop Casey to visit, with other parliamentarians, El Salvador and to speak to the religious and others who were reporting on human rights and the killings that were taking place.   

“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,” added President Higgins.