President joins mourners at funeral for Bishop Eamonn Casey

Mourners were told that revelations Bishop Casey had fathered a son were, “profoundly upsetting for the Church and for people in general"

President joins mourners at funeral for Bishop Eamonn Casey

The remains of former Bishop of Galway Eamonn Casey at Galway Cathedral, 16-03-2017. Image: Joe Shaughnessy/RollingNews.ie

The President Michael D. Higgins has joined mourners, family and friends at the funeral of Bishop Eamonn Casey in Galway today.

A Trócaire box and family crests were brought to the altar as symbols of his life for the funeral mass at Galway Cathedral.

Bishop Brendan Kelly of Achonry told the gathered mourners that Bishop Casey “did much good” during his ministry before calling revelations he had fathered a son, “profoundly upsetting for the Church and for people in general.”

Bishop Kelly highlighted the work Bishop Casey had undertaken fighting homelessness among Irish emigrants to England where he, “enabled many young couples to acquire their first home, to rise out of tenements and homelessness and thereby anchor their families in positive community environments.”

He said he was a “defender of the rights of people who were oppressed and poor” through his work on the national and international scene developing Trocáire from 1973.

“There are those of us who remember, with gratitude, his kindness and encouragement when personally we most needed it,” said Bishop Kelly.

“Then 25 years ago, the emergence into the light of other hidden realities in his life, beginning with the fact that he had a son, Peter, were profoundly upsetting for the Church and for people in general.

He said the funeral was “neither the time nor the place to go over the details which in any case are very well known, not only in Ireland, but all over the world.”

“Yes, we are all sinners, but irresponsibility, infidelity and sin are particularly shocking in the lives of those who preach the Gospel,” he said.

He said Bishop Casey, “expressed his sorrow many times, apologised and asked for forgiveness.”

“But people had been hurt and wounded,” he said. “Wounds that do not always heal easily or quickly.”

“We remember these people too today.  We acknowledge their suffering.  We pray for continued healing and peace for them.”

A number of Bishop Casey’s extended family led the mourners as his sister, Ita Furlong was too ill to attend and his Brother, Father Micheál could not make the trip from Perth, Australia.

His son, Peter Murphy who paid tribute to his father during the week, was not present at the funeral. 

Bishop Eamonn Casey

Born in Co Kerry on 24 April 1927, Eamonn Casey was educated in Limerick and in Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth from where he was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Limerick in 1951.  

Between 1960 and 1969 the then Father Casey pioneered the provision of housing for Irish emigrants to England and in 1963 was appointed National Director of the Catholic Housing Aid Society by the Bishops Conference of England and Wales.

Appointed Bishop of Kerry in 1969, Bishop Casey became the first chairman of Trócaire, the Irish Catholic Church’s overseas development agency, at its foundation in 1973.  

He was installed as Bishop of Galway in July 1976.

He was seen as a progressive and highly influential member of the church, until his resignation in 1992, after reports surfaced of his sexual relationship with American divorcée Annie Murphy.

Together they fathered a son, Peter who was born in 1974 in Dublin.

He subsequently worked as a missionary priest with the Society of Saint James in Ecuador until 1998 when he returned to parish ministry in the south of England.

He came home to Ireland in 2006 before moving to the Carrigoran Nursing Home in Co Clare in 2011.

He died peacefully on Monday, 13th March 2017.