Canon Brendan O’Donoghue, RIP

Funeral Homily – Canon Brendan O’Donoghue, RIP

Mary Immaculate Church, Shannon, Monday 8th of April, 2024


“Here I am Lord, I come to do your will.”

The response to the psalm today on this feast of the Annunciation, here in the Church of Mary Immaculate, Shannon.

What an appropriate feast day to mark the life and pray for the happy repose of the soul of a remarkable pastor.

He did just that, the line of the psalm, generously responding to God’s will in so many ways in the course of 68 years of service as a priest of the Killaloe Diocese.

“I am the handmaid of the Lord”, said Mary, “let what you have said be done to me”.

Sympathies and Condolences

We offer our profound sympathies and condolences to his Sister: Maureen Hoolan Dunkerrin, Brother: Jim O’Donoghue Pittsburgh USA, Sisters-in-law : Margaret & Patricia, Nephews /Nieces , grand nieces, grand nephews.  Relatives , family, friends and parishioners of Shannon, Ennis and other places associated with Canon Brendan.


We give thanks to God for the goodness of his very fulfilled, varied and well lived life and the way the glory of God was displayed through his talents.  We pray also that God might forgive whatever human failings he had and commit his soul to the Divine Mercy of the Lord that we celebrated yesterday.

Procrastination is the thief of time!

Canon Brendan, as you know well was a man who didn’t hang around and liked things to be done instantly.  One of the last conversations we had was in Ennis general hospital while the Colleges hurling final was on TV.   He was absorbed in the match in all the detail.  I asked him if he also enjoyed the equivalent in football, the Hogan Cup.  “Watching football he replied instantly is like watching paint dry on the wall”!  Being an adopted Clare man, after so many years of ministry here – he was a hurling man.  The fast pace of the great hurling game obviously appealed to him.  It was much more suited to his style and speed!  Direct ball, lightning speed, no messing.

The Canon was also a man who didn’t hang around during liturgies or at homily time.  I remember him gasp very loudly on one occasion in the sanctuary in Lourdes when I got to the ambo and he saw multiple pages of script being produced.  That same gasp of exasperation might be heard from the celestial realm, if I exceed that today, so I’d better get a move on!

Effective Homilist

Among the many skills and talents that Canon Brendan had was his short pithy and powerful homilies with a simple story and a pointed message that effectively made the point he wanted to make.  One such story that he occasionally used at a funeral was a story about the famous Christopher Wren:

Twelve years after the completion of the beautiful and historic St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, its architect, Christopher Wren, died. Following the destruction of the Great Fire of London in 1666, Wren played a vital role in designing many of the rebuilt buildings. Much of London today is shaped by his vision and this is seen most prominently in St. Paul’s.


So much so, that when he died, he was entombed in the bottom of St. Paul’s and his place marked with a modest plaque. His son, desiring to pay tribute to the lasting mark his father left on the city through his buildings, inscribed the words “Lector, si monumentum requiris, circumspice,” which, translated, says “Reader, if you seek a monument, look around.”

The idea, clearly, is that Christopher Wren’s legacy is not a statue of his likeness, but rather these iconic and culture transforming structures that serve as the backbone of London architecture.

Something similar could be said of a unique pastor in Brendan, BOD as some colleagues affectionately called him, who spent his life laying the foundations of the architecture of Church structures, traditions, rituals and celebrations that have deeply influenced the lives of so many he came into contact with, beit the various chaplaincies in Galway Diocese, emigrant work, St. Flannan’s College, Ennis, Shannon, Lourdes, the countless pilgrimages and trips he organised around the world.

Brendan was one of a series of very talented and enlightened priests in the diocese who were great social innovators.  In his assignments he was steeped in the work of social justice, special needs and mainstream education, care of the elderly.  He so often spoke of the centrality of community and that if parishes put on something worthwhile – people would respond with involvement and support.  All building up the community of faith, the body of Christ, Pobal Dé!

Good Shepherd – Pastor Bonus

On Sunday week, Good Shepherd Sunday we mark the grand finale of a special year of prayer for Vocations to the Diocesan Priesthood, Take the Risk for Christ.  We have spent the year praying for and actively encouraging people to take the step to follow the Good Shepherd here in Killaloe Diocese, just like Canon Brendan did for almost 70 years.  One of the most outstanding promotional resources was a simple interview Canon Brendan did for Clare FM’s Beyond Belief with Brendan Quinlivan. He spoke plainly about his life as a priest.  The interview was a reflection on his authenticity, genuineness, enthusiasm, freshness, communication skills and pastoral zeal.

As man who read widely he always keen to expand his understanding of the faith and adapt that to the changing world around him.   Above and beyond that, his deep sense of the centrality of prayer was what most shone though in his life. Eucharistic and Marian devotion and commitment to Eucharistic Adoration were at the heart of his priestly life.

Loss and Sadness

Canon Brendan, a deeply loved pastor will be sorely missed, not only by his close family and friends but everyone in the diocese of Killaloe.  With great sadness we say farewell.

Having been his table companion for the last number of years in The Solitude Hotel in Lourdes – I always enjoyed Brendan’s departing remarks.  Well he’d say when he had his meal taken… I don’t think we’re going to get any more here… and all of a sudden he was gone…

Time to move and get on to the next chapter of doing the work of the Lord.

“Here I am Lord, I come to do your will.”

May Canon Brendan enjoy his just reward in the glory of heaven on this feast of Our Lady, this Eastertide day!



Canon Brendan O’Donoghue, RIP

A.P. Tradaree Pastoral Area

Brendan O’Donoghue was born on 10th of August 1931 in Dublin. In 1936 his family moved to Ballacolla Co. Laois where he received his First Holy Communion and Confirmation. He attended St. Flannan’s College in Ennis from 1944 to 1949. From 1949 to 1956 he attended seminary at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth. He was ordained on the 17th of June 1956. His first appointment was to the temporary mission in the Diocese of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora, serving in Oughterard and Salthill. In 1959, he joined the emigrant apostolate in Britain and was recalled in January 1961 to the teaching staff of St. Flannan’s College. In July 1962 he returned to the emigrant chaplaincy in Birmingham. In April 1966 he was appointed as a curate in Ennis. He became administrator of Ennis parish in July 1984.


In 1988 he was appointed Parish Priest of Shannon. He retired as P.P. in 2002 but continued to minister as A.P. in the Tradaree Pastoral Area. He served as director of the diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes, and was made a Canon of the Basilica of Lourdes in 2010. He served as a priest of the diocese of Killaloe for 68 years.


He died on April 4th 2024.             


May He Rest in Peace.

Funeral Arrangements: Reposing in SS John and Paul’s Church,

Shannon on Sunday (7th April) from 5:30pm with evening prayer

at 7:30pm. Arriving for Funeral Mass on Monday (8th April) in

Mary Immaculate Church, Shannon at 3pm followed by burial in

Illaunmanagh Cemetery.