Funeral Homily for Canon Caimin O’Carroll
Wednesday November 10th, 2021, Ennis Cathedral
There is something special about names of people that are uniquely particular to a given location. Around Tuam there are many Jarlaths. On the banks of Lough Corrib, Fursey is a common name. In Connemara MacDara’s abound. On Aran Caomhán is popular. Native to county Clare we have the great saintly names of Flannan, Conaire, Imy, Senan and Caimin to mention but a few. Apart from Caimin of Inis Cealtra, Holy Island, I had hardly heard the name Caimin until I met Canon Caimin in recent years.
He immediately stood out as an aristocrat, (in the good sense) of the Diocese of Killaloe. Having been diocesan secretary for so long, with his sharp mind and clear memory, he was privy to so much of the lore of the diocese in all its aspects. Even though he was in his late 80’s, up to a number of years ago he continued to serve on the Finance Committee and the Diocesan Trust. His arrival was an event, dressed immaculately, cane in hand and he invariably took up his place at the table in the centre of the bay window in Westbourne, a place where he was at home for many years.
Words like loyal, confidential, obliging, genuine, gentle, nice, kind, decent were given to me as a description by colleagues who knew him well for many decades.
By any standards, priestly service of 67 years is extraordinary. From his Native Scarriff to St. Flannan’s, Maynooth, to Brentwood, Portroe, Templederry, Barefield, Westbourne, Ennis. It was a dedicated pilgrim journey in the service of the Good Shepherd for so many years. The book of Wisdom today gives us great consolation of the hope our faith gives us at a time of loss like this; “The souls of the righteous are in the hands of God”. Canon Caimin certainly “fought the good fight” and has now “finished the race” in the words of St. Paul in the second reading and we expect what St. Paul describes as “the crown of righteousness”.
Caimin was a truly dedicated, faith-filled, prayerful pastor who like so many of his generation were loyal and faithful to the letter of the law in terms of duty and observance. We pray during this Mass for the happy repose of his soul, that God might forgive whatever human failings he may have had. We pray also for the consolation and offer condolences to his family, his brother Senan, nieces, nephews and all who mourn his passing.
Canon Caimin lived an eventful and interesting life. He was ahead of many and way before his time in the use of technology, films, cameras, phones, computers, machines and gadgets of all sorts. He was one of the first priests to have a mobile phone and his skills as a photographer was renowned. His parish newsletters were legendary for their time. Apparently they rivalled even The Clare Champion for all sorts of wide-ranging news and detail!
Being associated with Doora-Barefield for almost 60 years, one would not be surprised that his heart was totally in “The Parish” and he got to know so many people so well there.
Caimin’s knowledge of people and interest in them was outstanding. He could trace generations of parishioners in an instant. I saw him in action at one stage in Carrigoran quizzing a new nurse on duty. Within minutes he had worked out her whole seed breed and generation going back several generations. GDPR being non-existent in his mind and to his generation and people centred mind-set!
Caimin loved to travel and his knowledge and recall of destinations was uncanny. I love the story, that totally by coincidence a wedding couple who on the day after he celebrating their wedding ended up on the same plane as he, going on holidays and further to that again by coincidence also ended up in the exact same hotel!!! No scope for misbehaviour then with the Parish Priest on the honeymoon!
Apart from his aptitude for administration, finance and all the detail that goes with being a diocesan secretary Caimin’s great pastoral outreach was with the students and primary school communities, especially Knockaneen for whom he had a great grá. Again, because of his interest in people he would patiently chat to every student, with no hurry, much to the distress at times of colleagues who might be trying to get through up to 60 confessions in a go with very limited time available!
One little anecdote to recall, I remember at one stage in the transition from Barefield to Ennis and before his move to Carrigoran there were great plans afoot to adapt Caimin’s house to make it as convenient and comfortable as possible, something of which Caimin was having none of. During one of his respite visits, however a chair-lift was installed on the stairs. Caimin of course hadn’t the slightest intention of using a chair life, which after all was for old people. However, as a gesture of cooperation to the well-meaning helpers he did concede when he was going upstairs to carefully strap his breviary into the chair, send that off in style and then proceeded to climb the stairs himself, freely, proudly and unaided by any extra help! He was not one to let go of his independence easily!
Canon Caimin was a man who ministered so faithfully to so many all his life for many decades. He was a great Legionary and would have loved to be able to celebrate the centenary of the Founding of the Legion, were he able to this year! What I noticed with interest in recent years was the way he ended being ministered to in return by so many of his close friends and family, namely Bernie and Liam Murphy, Bernadette Cahir, his faith-filled Brother, Senan among others. Being unable to recite the divine office he loved to have the prayers of the rosary, Divine Mercy Chaplet and other devotions prayed so fervently and with love and devotion at his bedside. Someone remarked yesterday evening that Sally, the former Sacristan in Barefield who recently returned to God and with whom he worked for many decades must have summoned him to heaven, it being his time.
There are consoling words today in the Gospel of St. John today for Caimin’s devoted brother Senan where we hear Jesus utter the words to Martha “Your brother will rise again” and Jesus fleshes it out for us all “I am the resurrection and the life. If anyone believes in me, they will not die.”
It was perhaps no mere coincidence that the day after the feast of All-Saints of Ireland that Caimin peacefully returned to God, quietly, unobtrusively, but with determined resolve, as he had lived his long and faithful life. We pray that he is enjoying the fulfilment of a lifetime of sacred ministry in union with his Patron, Saint Caimin in the Holy Island that is our destiny in heaven above. Amen!
Retired Parish Priest of Doora-Barefield, Co. Clare.
Born on November 20th 1929.
Canon Caimin was a native of Scariff, Co. Clare and was a priest of the Diocese of Killaloe for 67 years. He was a past pupil of St. Flannan’s College, Ennis. He studied for the priesthood at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth where he was ordained in June 1954.
His first appointment was in the Diocese of Brentwood in England. He returned to Ireland in 1959 to become curate in Portroe Co. Tipperary. In March 1961 he was appointed as curate in Templederry Co. Tipperary.
In 1966 he became the curate in Doora-Barefield parish and was also appointed as Diocesan Secretary. He was appointed Parish Priest of Doora-Barefield, Co. Clare on 23rd Oct 1987. He was appointed A.P. in the same parish in July 2005. On 26th July 1991 he became a Canon of the Chapter of the Diocese of Killaloe. On July 23rd 1993 he was appointed Diocesan Financial Secretary.
He died in Carrigoran on 7th of November 2021. May he rest in peace.
Reposing in the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Barefield this Tuesday Nov 9th from 5pm to 7pm. Requiem Mass in St Peter & Paul’s Cathedral, Ennis, at 2pm, this Wednesday Nov 10th , followed by burial in Barefield Church grounds.