Man Who Died In Fenit Fire Was Much-Loved Retired Priest

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Fr. Gearoid O’Donnchadha who died in a fire in Fenit in the early hours of the morning.

THERE is a sense of shock in Fenit at the death of Fr. Gearoid Ó Donnchadha in a fire in the early hours of Monday morning.

The well-known an much-loved man was a huge figure in the Fenit community, actively promoting many projects in Fenit and beyond, including the statue of St Brendan the Navigator.

Fr Gearoid was born in Cork City in 1933 and grew up in Killarney.

In 1950 he entered Maynooth College Co. Kildare and was ordained a priest of the Kerry Diocese in June 1957.

He served in Manchester, Rathmore, Sneem and Birmingham. He served briefly in Tralee and Castlegregory. He taught in St. Brendan’s Killarney and St. Colman’s Newry between 1964 and 1967.

In 1967 he began a two year teaching stint in Archbishop Stepinac High School, White Plains, New York while attending Fordham University where he received MA and PhD degrees in Sociology.

Between 1969 and 1971 he taught in Mercy College, Dobbs Ferry, NY, and in City College NY. In 1971 he began teaching in Hartwick College, Oneonta, in Upstate New York. In 1980 he began teaching in Tralee Regional Technical College ( later, ITT, Institute of Technology, Tralee). He retired in 1998.

In a statement issued this morning, Sinn Féin Deputy Martin Ferris has expressed his sympathy on the death of the popular retired priest.

“The parish of Fenit and the wider community are horrified at the tragic death of Fr. O’Donnchada this morning. Fr. O’Donnchada served his parish faithfully for many years and he had a deep affection for Fenit and its people,” said Deputy Ferris.

“This affection was reciprocated by the people of the area towards him. He was involved in many projects in the area over the years, none so much as the St. Brendan the Navigator statue on Samphire Island at Fenit pier which he spearheaded and will forever be connected with him.”

“His historical knowledge will be impossible to replace and to his family and many friends I express my deepest sympathy. His passing has left a deep void and sense of bewilderment in the area which has suffered many tragedies over the years, people like Fr. O’Donnchada were always there to help in these situations and I know the parish of Fenit will rally around to help his family at this terrible time. Ar dheis Dé a raibh a anam dílis,” said Deputy Ferris.

One Comment

  1. Brenda McNulty says:

    As a frequent visitor to Fenit, one of my most fondest memories will be the 9 o’clock mass said daily by Fr Gearoid. He could incapsulate a message in two sentences and his God was a living God in midst of ordinary people. Over the years I relied on Fr Gearoid to offer mass during family crisis or the illness of friends. I’d text him if needed prayers and used to feel he had a ‘direct link’. Sincere sympathy to his family and community and especially those who attended his masses during the week. When the church was being done up he said mass in his cottage and they were sacred moments.

    I know he will continue to lobby for us and his spirit will live on both in our memories and also his projects and writings.