Clare Association in Dublin

Clare Association Dublin Address Saturday, April 28th, 2018


It is indeed a great privilege and delight for me to be present tonight at the Clare Association annual gathering here in Dublin.  Is mór an onóir dom ’bheith in bhur measc anocht!


Mayo Association in Galway

For almost a quarter of a century I ministered in Co. Galway and every year in February I was always conscious of the Mayo Person’s Association in Galway having their annual gathering similar to this in Galway city.  I used to wonder at it as Mayo people were just a hen’s throw away from home, a short trip down the N-17 and I used somewhat cynically wonder why they bothered having such a gathering so close to home.


Understanding from the US

It was only during the many years I spent working during Summers in a Los Angeles parish and meeting so many of the diaspora there that I began to understand the reality of what it was like to be away from home and have a great nostalgia for one’s native place. Níl aon tintéan mar do thintéan fhéin – and everyone has a natural hankering after one’s native shore one’s native soil when one is away from home.


It is quite understandable for me now that for you being a native of the beautiful county of Clare, while living or working in Dublin that one would only love to have an opportunity like this to celebrate all that is good in the Banner County.


Recently Acquired love for Clare

At this point, being almost 2 years in Clare – I have effortlessly acquired a huge gráfor the banner county and despite, no perhaps because of the busyness of my job as Bishop of Killaloe I have gained a massive appreciation for the friendliness of the people of Clare, the beauty of the landscape, the ancient and current Christian heritage, the interest there in our native games, not to mention the huge interest in traditional music among many other attractive things.


The Outstanding beauty of Clare

Who could not be bowled over by the beauty of the Cliffs of Moher, Ailwee Caves, the Corkscrew Hill, the Fanore Walks, some of the finest golf courses in the world like Lahinch and Doonbeg, the Cliffs at Kilkee, the wondeful beach locations and seascapes, the majestic Shannon estuary, the rolling hills of Broadford, Mountshannon, Killenena and much of East Clare, the stunning beauty of the town of Killaloe shimmering across the water, the ancient abbeys and ecclesiastical sites of Clare Abbey, Canon Island, Holy Island and many more.


Clare, my heart my Home!

It was perhaps only really in the middle of the wonderful Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireannof last Summer that I really got a sense that I was in a very special place – with the hundreds of thousands of people who came and celebrate all that Clare had to offer in its people, surroundings and rich heritage.  The beautiful video clip that was made for TG4 with scenes from Clare and the music of Tim Collins of the Kilfenora Céilí band – Clare My Heart My Home captures truly what makes Clare so unique and so special.  It is just a lovely place to live and I am quite aware of how privileged I am to be based there.


Observations on Urban and Rural Clare

On somewhat of a serious and business theme – in my short time in Clare I have observed the great progess and relatively thriving economy of some of urban Clare, the triangle that is Ennis, Shannon and Sixmilebridge.  However, in many areas of rural Clare I have observed in rural areas during parish visits the worrying aspect of rural depopulation, namely in East and West Clare. Numbers in primary schools and the viability of many GAA underage teams have continued to decline.  I had the privilege of attending the launch of the Clare County Council launch of the effort to arrest the rural depopulation decline last October.  Much has been done to address this but a lot more needs to be done to continue to make rural areas vibrant and thriving communities.


Ecclesiastical News

For those interested in a summary update of Church news – the ongoing efforts at rationalization and restructuring continue apace in order to copy with the declining numbers of clergy. On the positive end of the scale more and more lay people are continuing to get involved and take ownership and responsibility for so many aspects of Church life.  May God continue to bless that good work!


Congrats to the Association

I congratulate the Association for the good work they do in linking Clare people together, networking, establishing friendships and links, ensuring that Banner folk look out for and look after each other when the need arises.  Congrats on the wonderful year book you bring out annually and all the work that goes into producing such an informative, historical and handsome volume.


John Burke – Clare Person of the Year

Congrats also on the outstanding choice of Mr. John Burke as Clare Person of the Year.  It is only right and fitting that his amazing achievement of being the first Clare man to scale the heights of Everest should be marked, celebrated and honoured at this great annual event.


Last December I had the privilege of listening first hand to stories of the exploits of John as he was the guest of honour at the annual Garda awards, to honour young people who are already outstanding in the communities in county Clare.  He is a wonderful role model for every young Clare person and the work that he and his wife Aoibhín do for the their mental health charity is of huge benefit and has great potential for so many young people that might be struggling!


I also had the privilege of sharing the viewing stand with him on St. Patrick’s day in Ennis as he was grand marshall at the parade.  You may remember that St. Patrick’s day was bitterly cold.  It was almost as cold that day as Mount Everest.  Everyone on the viewing stand was absolutely frozen! The only one who was glowing with warmth, cozy, toasty and happy was John Burke as he was wearing his full Mount Everest regalia and outfit.  He was the envy of all there on the day.


Model for us all!

As someone who has a big interest in hillwalking – I’m lost in admiration for the enormity of his achievement, his persistence, determination, spirit of adventure and his achievement is indeed immense.  He is such an outstanding inspiration for us all in demonstrating that we can perhaps reach our own personal Everests when we need to whatever shape they may take! Congratulations and well done to him and thanks for his inspiration to us all.


A mhuintir an Chláir – bainigí sult agus taitneamh as an ócáid inniu.


Enjoy the festivities and celebrations agus go mbeirimid beo an t-am seo arís!