Date Published: 23-Aug-2012
It is not many people who can say they have received all of the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church. The sacrament of marriage is not compatible with the sacrament of ordination as the Vatican doesn’t allow its clergy to be married. However, Seán Kilcoyne was married for 30 years and after he was widowed, he realised he had a late vocation.
Seán was 62 when he started his studies for the priesthood in Rome and on Saturday he turned 90, making him the oldest working priest in the diocese, if not the country.
A Mayo man, Fr Seán settled in Galway over 50 years ago with his young wife, Rita, a native of Caherlistrane, and enjoyed a working life as a technician for the Posts and Telegraph, now Eircom. In fact he worked with them for 40 years.
They lived in Newcastle for a while before they bought a house in Dún na Mara, Renmore, where incidentally he lives now to be near his post as chaplain in the Bons Secours Hospital.
“I had always thought I had a vocation, even as a young child but I never said it to anyone. Then I met Rita and married and it wasn’t until she died that I started to think about it seriously again,” he says.
When he told his younger brother, Colm, who is a priest, that he was thinking of joining, his brother replied “I think you might make it”.
Fr Seán remembers the support he got from the then Bishop of Galway, Eamonn Casey and says he was kind and understanding and even ensured that Seán could mention his late wife during the ordination ceremony in Galway Cathedral on June 19, 1988.
Seán studied for four years in Pieta College in Rome and was one of 95 late vocations, though the only one from Ireland.
“I loved being in Rome and I took to the studies because it was what I really wanted. I spent four years there and after I was ordained, I was first appointed as a curate in Mervue, then to Claregalway, as an administrator in Kilchreest and then to Bushypark where I spent nine years before I moved here to the Bons [Secours] seven years ago.”
You could say that being chaplain in the Bons is a return to his own parish of Renmore, where he lived as a married man.
In those days he was not only a practising Catholic but a member of the Knights of Columbanus, a fraternity for lay members and while Seán prayed for vocations on a regular basis, though as a married man, he was certainly not praying for his own vocation at the time!
“I believe it is never too late to have a vocation and the great thing is that all vocations are welcomed. Though I had a brother a priest, I really didn’t know who to turn to at the time, believe it or not. And when I did mention it, I was advised about going on retreats or take a correspondence course. I had no interest in any of those. I knew I wanted to study for the priesthood so when someone said I should speak to the Bishop, that’s what I did and I got great support.
“One of the things I do remember is the support I received from the lads I had worked with. That meant a lot to me at the time.”
Indeed he has never looked back and if anything, his life experiences have probably made him a better priest, though he is far too humble to say that himself.
He is much loved by young and old and many of his former parishioners in Bushypark consider him a friend, with some still in contact with him to this day.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.
The way we were – Protecting archives of our past
People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.
Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.
She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.
Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.
Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.
When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.
Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.
And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.
All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.
“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”
That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.
For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here
Galway have lot to ponder in poor show
Date Published: 23-Jan-2013
FRANK FARRAGHER IN ENNISCRONE
GALWAY’S first serious examination of the 2013 season rather disturbingly ended with a rating well below the 40% pass mark at the idyllic, if rather Siberian, seaside setting of Enniscrone on Sunday last.
The defeat cost Galway a place in the FBD League Final against Leitrim and also put a fair dent on their confidence shield for the bigger tests that lie ahead in February.
There was no fluke element in this success by an understrength Sligo side and by the time Leitrim referee, Frank Flynn, sounded the final whistle, there wasn’t a perished soul in the crowd of about 500 who could question the justice of the outcome.
It is only pre-season and last Sunday’s blast of dry polar winds did remind everyone that this is far from summer football, but make no mistake about it, the match did lay down some very worrying markers for Galway following a couple of victories over below par third level college teams.
Galway did start the game quite positively, leading by four points at the end of a first quarter when they missed as much more, but when Sligo stepped up the tempo of the game in the 10 minutes before half-time, the maroon resistance crumbled with frightening rapidity.
Some of the statistics of the match make for grim perusal. Over the course of the hour, Galway only scored two points from play and they went through a 52 minute period of the match, without raising a white flag – admittedly a late rally did bring them close to a draw but that would have been very rough justice on Sligo.
Sligo were backable at 9/4 coming into this match, the odds being stretched with the ‘missing list’ on Kevin Walsh’s team sheet – Adrian Marren, Stephen Coen, Tony Taylor, Ross Donovan, David Kelly, David Maye, Johnny Davey and Eamon O’Hara, were all marked absent for a variety of reasons.
Walsh has his Sligo side well schooled in the high intensity, close quarters type of football, and the harder Galway tried to go through the short game channels, the more the home side bottled them up.
Galway badly needed to find some variety in their attacking strategy and maybe there is a lot to be said for the traditional Meath style of giving long, quick ball to a full forward line with a big target man on the edge of the square – given Paul Conroy’s prowess close to goal last season, maybe it is time to ‘settle’ on a few basics.
Defensively, Galway were reasonably solid with Gary Sice at centre back probably their best player – he was one of the few men in maroon to deliver decent long ball deep into the attacking zone – while Finian Hanley, Conor Costello and Gary O’Donnell also kept things tight.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr
Date Published: 23-Jan-2013