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27 Sept 2022

Clare-born priest given special send-off after two decades in community

Clare-born priest given special send-off after two decades in community

Cllr. Adam Teskey, Fr. Morris Costello, Seamus Hogan, Gia Sheridan, Breda McCarthy, Brid Meehan, and Nora McCarthy. Front: Fr. Robbie Coffey, Peter Donovan, Fr. Willie Russell, Noel White and Amanda S

ONE LIMERICK town put their heads together to organise a special send-off for their local parish priest, who has been saying mass in the community for more than two decades.

Rathkeale came together to bid farewell to Clare native Father Willie Russell, their priest who has served in the community at St. Mary’s Church, for the last 22 years.

One touching tribute on the night described Fr Russell as “a ball of fun”, likening him to a grandfather, father and brother rolled into one.

The freshly painted Community Hall in Rathkeale, Limerick was teeming with well-wishers on Tuesday, September 6.

Countless speakers expressed best wishes for their adopted priest, after diligently serving Abbeyfeale and its surrounding districts.

Brid Meehan read a special poem she authored for the occasion, Tribute to a Clare Man.

Guests on the night included Fr Willie’s family and Fr Liam Enright, who returned from his new parish of St Joseph’s, on O’ Connell Avenue, in Limerick City.

“It was a wonderful opportunity to work with so many great people in the historic town of Rathkeale,” said Fr Willie, taking to the podium.

The send-off was organised by Amanda Sheridan, Breda McCarthy, Nora McCarthy and Gia Sheridan, all members of Rathkeale’s Traveller community, with assistance from settled members of the parish, Downes Eurospar and the other providers of the wonderful food.

Seamus Hogan was the charming master of ceremonies, the musicians played beautifully, and George Daly recorded the event.

In one final hurrah, the community thanked Fr Willie for his kindness, understanding and always being there when loved ones passed away. They thanked him for his spiritual deed.

“Our doors are always open to Fr Willie in Rathkeale,” concluded Amanda Sheridan.

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