28 February 2009
Bishop Denis Brennan speaking to the Wexford Association 55th annual dinner in London
Firstly, let me say, it’s a great pleasure for me to be here with you tonight.I love it when people from around our diocese gather, at home or abroad, and I would like to thank Michael Sills, Phil Roche and their Committee for making it happen for the 55th time in London.
My first trip to London was in 1968. The late Fr Declan Jordan and myself come over to work for the summer.We got jobs in a potato factory, they were the day jobs, but we worked in pubs at night. Every time I hear a song called ‘’ Hickory Hollers Tramp ‘’ I think of those nights pulling pints of bitter, it was on the Juke Box all the time. The other memory I have of that trip is that when we gave our notice we were sacked on the spot and then had to hang around for a week to get our last week’s wages. I was back in 1970 for the wedding of a classmate from Kiltealy, Eddie Neville, and I’m delighted to say that Eddie and Kathleen are here tonight and still holding hands after all these years!Other school friends here tonight are Mike Jordan and Rosy Pendar and from the Rathnure end Jim Howlin and his friends.
From 1970 to 1990, as a member of the House of Missions in Enniscorthy I spent every Autumn doing Missions in England. On those visits I met people from all over Wexford and from all the other counties too, it gave me an insight into the challenge of leaving home and putting down roots in a new place. It gave me a sense too of how important it is to keep the links with home, you going home, friends coming over, the local papers, the GAA matches, events like tonight’s gathering.
I understand that the Ballindaggin Pipe Band are coming over for St Patrick’s Day for the second year in a row, you must have made Jim Byrne, Pat Armstrong, Tony Reddy, Jim Cooper and the band very welcome last year! I’m delighted to see in recent years that the ‘’ Ballindaggin ‘’ has recruited a number of young people, if they can keep this up they will become a ‘’ boy band!’’
The fact that our delegation this year includes His Worship the Mayor of Wexford Mr Ted Howlin and his wife Mary, the Chairman of Wexford Co Council Mr Peter Byrne, the County Manager Mr Eddie Breen and his wife Pauline and the Finance Officer Wexford Borough Council Angela Laffan shows that these links are important at home as well.
Last week we had a Diocesan Gathering in Wexford, three hundred people from every parish and curacy in the diocese came together to celebrate the many good things that are happening around the diocese at the moment, the work that goes on in our schools, the various parish committees, the annual pilgrimages, including last summer a hundred young people going to Sydney for World Youth Day, church and parish celebrations of all sorts, community building going on quietly but effectively.
With your interest in all things Wexford I am glad to be able to report that there is much that is good going on in what Monsignor Corish calls ‘’ the little strip of land between the mountains and the sea.’’
I would like to compliment you too for the great contribution you have made here in London to church and community life. Wherever the Irish have gone they have brought their sense of parish, their sense of community, this is very evident here tonight as you have gathered in such large numbers to celebrate your 55th Annual Dinner Dance. I know from meeting Irish people in England over the years that most have the intention of returning home at some stage, sometimes this comes to pass, sometimes it does not.
Either way I would like you to know that whether you remain here in London or come back to your home area you will always be part of our Ferns family. I thank you for your invitation and your hospitality on this occasion, I wish you well in your life and work and I ask God’s blessing on you and your families.
Director: Fr. John Carroll