The late Eamon Casey, Firies, Bishop of Kerry 1969 – 1976

Bishop Eamon Casey in Castleisland in 1969. How many of the faces can you place. ©Photograph: Kevin Coleman.
Bishop Eamon Casey in Castleisland on Sunday, January 4th. 1970. How many of the faces can you place. ©Photograph: Kevin Coleman.

He may be best remembered for his fall from grace in the shocking summer of 1992 but Eamon Casey’s only real sin was hypocrisy – a sin for which he could never find forgiveness in the fold he had been excluded from practicing as a priest thereafter.

From what we know now about the fold he was part of, it’s the same hypocrisy which forbid the forgiveness of his venial sin.

Castleisland was abuzz with excitement at the news of his appointment as Bishop of Kerry in 1969.

Confirmation Ceremony

The Six One News this evening showed footage of a Castleisland confirmation ceremony in the early 1970s. That same clip was shot as part of Wheels of the World – the 1973 documentary on the area which was scripted by Con Houlihan.

Bishop Casey’s amazing presence packed Main Street here on Sunday, January 4th. 1970 on a tour of his new diocese.

Along with many of my friends and neighbours we waited in the cold night air for his arrival and got our pictures in the paper for good measure.

No Stranger to Castleisland

On that occasion Bishop Casey said that he was no stranger to Castleisland and that he had always enjoyed coming over here.

He said he would like to take the opportunity to renew the pledge he had made at his consecration. He said that he would say and do some things, some beneficial, others would be mistakes for which he would be criticised, but he would still do them.

He asked the parishioners of Castleisland to stand by him in the mistakes as well as in the good he may do.

The Goodness of the Man

As for the goodness of the man, there are Irish people who lived in pure poverty in England for whom he will always remain a hero.

He was well known for his work helping Irish emigrants and urging them to stand up for themselves.

He was born on April 24th 1927 in Firies and was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Limerick on 17 June 1951.

He was appointed Bishop of Kerry on July 17th. 1969 – a position he held until 1976, when he was appointed Bishop of Galway. They loved him there too and were deeply shocked at the 1992 revelations.

Supporter of Dunne’s Stores Staff

He was a vocal supporter of the Dunnes Stores staff, who were locked out in the mid 1980s for refusing to sell goods from South Africa.

He also opposed the 1984 visit of United States President Ronald Reagan to Ireland, refusing to meet him when he came to Galway.

The Six-One News this evening revealed that he had several meetings with his son Peter in recent years and before his dementia took over. And after the last of these he was much more at peace with himself. May God be good to him.

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