WATCH: Late Limerick priest receives full military honours at funeral

David Hurley

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David Hurley

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WATCH: Late Limerick priest receives full military honours at funeral

Fr Gerry O'Neill's coffin is placed on a gun carriage following his funeral service | PICTURES: Michael Cowhey

The funeral has taken place of well-known priest, Fr Gerry O’Neill, who died earlier this week following a short illness.

Originally from Quins Cottages, Rosbrien, Fr O’Neill – the first ever parish priest at Our Lady Help of Christians at Milford, Castletroy – was chaplain to the Defence Forces 1st Brigade (southern region) for more than a decade.

He also previously served as chaplain to both Arbour Hill and Mountjoy prisons in Dublin. 

Hundreds of people attended this Thursday’s funeral service including family, friends and members of the Defence Forces who formed a guard of honour as the coffin, which was draped in the tricolour, was transported on a gun carriage.

Members of the Army No.1 Band also performed as Fr O’Neill’s remains were carried from Our Lady Help of Christians church following the funeral service.

A member of the Salesian order, Fr O’Neill was ordained at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Rosbrien by Bishop Eamonn Casey on December 9, 1973.

Having attended primary school in Limerick city, he progressed to Ballinkaill secondary school in County Laois before going on to study at Warrenstown College at Drumree, County Meath.

He studied philosophy at Darlington College in the UK before engaging in some lay missionary work with the Salesians overseas for a number of years.

Gerry returned in Ireland in 1970 when he completed further studies before joining the priesthood. 

Aged 74, it’s understood he had been ill for some time but had remained active at Collins Barracks in Cork until late last year.

“He was very much involved in life in the barracks and with the local parish. He was great craic and he loved rugby and his hurling,” said Cmdt Michael Parsons, who was married by Fr O’Neill.

The Last Post was played at the graveside at Kilkeedy Cemetery, Ballybrown while members of the Defence Forces also performed a 21-gun salute.

The late chaplain is survived by his sister Majella and his brothers Sean, Kieran and Neillus.