Information for media on the funeral liturgy for Bishop Eamonn Casey RIP

16 Mar 2017

At 2.00pm today the requiem Mass for the late Bishop Eamonn Casey RIP, will be celebrated in the Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and Saint Nicholas in the Diocese of Galway.  Bishop John Kirby, Bishop of Clonfert, will be the chief celebrant at the Mass which will be concelebrated by bishops and priests from within and without the diocese.  In attendance will be family, friends and the local parish community.  Bishop Brendan Kelly, Bishop of Achonry, will deliver the homily.  Bishop Casey will be interred following the Mass in the Cathedral crypt.

Out of respect for the solemnity of the Mass, and to provide privacy and space to the families, media are asked not to use camera equipment within the Cathedral or on its grounds.  A public address system will be in place to relay the Mass to those attending outside.

Please see below information for media on the funeral liturgy for Bishop Casey RIP:

Family: Son: Peter will not be present
Sister: Ita Furlong will not be present due to illness
Brother: Father Mícheál will not be present – lives in Perth, Australia
Sisters-in-law,nieces and nephews


Civic Dignitaries: His Excellency Michael D Higgins, Uachtarán na hÉireann
Members of Galway City and County Councils
Principal celebrant: Bishop John Kirby, Bishop of Clonfert
Former chairman of Trocáire
Preacher: Bishop Brendan Kelly, Bishop of Achonry
Former priest of the Diocese of Galway
Concelebrants: Retired and serving members of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference
Priests of the Diocese of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfernora
Priests of the Dioceses of Limerick and Kerry
Priests from other dioceses and religious orders and congregations
Choir: Galway Cathedral Choir
Members of Bishop Eamonn’s family

Welcome to the celebration of Mass for the repose of the soul of Bishop Eamonn Casey.  I sympathise with the Casey family, with Bishop Eamonn’s brother, Father Mícheál Casey in Australia, with his sister Ita Furlong, with his son Peter Murphy and with Peter’s mother Annie, and with Bishop Eamonn’s nieces and nephews as well as their children and grandchildren and their extended families.  I know how close Bishop Eamonn felt to all of his family and of their closeness to him.

Introductory words of sympathy and welcome by chief celebrant Bishop John Kirby

Cuirim fáilte roimh an tUasal Mícheál D Ó hUiginn, Uachtarán na hÉireann.  Tá sé i lathair ní amháin mar Uachtarán ach ‘choinne sin mar chara.  Ar chuid mhaith cúrsaí bheadh an intinn céanna ag an mbeirt acu, an tEasbag Eamonn agus Mícheál D.

I welcome my concelebrating bishops and priests from various parts of the country and outside it, most especially Bishop Nicholas Hudson from London who joins us today to represent the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols.

I welcome people from Limerick Diocese.  Eamonn Casey was a priest of Limerick before his appointment as bishop in 1969.

I welcome representatives from the Irish Episcopal Commission for Emigrants.   Father Casey’s care and work for Irish emigrants in England in the 1950’s was huge.  It was there that his feel for the problems of ordinary people surfaced.

I welcome people from Kerry Diocese of which Eamonn Casey was bishop from 1969 -1976.   In particular, I welcome people from Siamsa Tíre the Irish Music and Dance centre in Tralee which Eamonn encouraged in its early years.

I welcome representatives from Trócaire, of which Cardinal William Conway selected Bishop Eamonn as the first Chairman 1973 – 1992.  He played a major part in developing Trócaire as a Catholic organisation which challenged the status quo and unjust practices as well as helping to alleviate hunger and poverty in the developing world.

I welcome people from the Council for the West and the Western Development Commission both of which owe their existence to the Developing the West Together initiative headed by Bishop Casey in the 1990’s.

I welcome parishioners from Shanaglish, Gort where Bishop Eamonn lived and made good friends over his five years there.

In recent years, Bishop Eamonn resided in Carrigoran Nursing Home, Newmarket-on-Fergus, Co Clare.  I know that he was very happy as a resident there and I thank the Sisters of Charity and the staff for the great care they gave him.   You are indeed welcome to this Mass.

I welcome public representatives and people from the diocese and City of Galway where Eamonn served for 16 years 1976 – 1992.  I welcome the large congregation this afternoon, gathered to celebrate Bishop Eamonn’s life and more importantly to pray for the happy repose of his soul.

I express the regrets of Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh and Archbishop Michael Neary of Tuam who are unable to attend today because of their previous commitment to ministering the Sacrament of Confirmation.

I am honoured to have been invited to be the main celebrant of this Requiem Mass for Bishop Eamonn Casey.  Please join with me as we pray for Eamonn’s eternal rest in the Lord in whom he trusted so much.

Symbols of Bishop Eamonn’s life

Ms Helena O’Hara Niece Casey and Shanahan family crests
representing  Eamonn’s father’s and mother’s families
Ms Vera Casey Sister-in-law Trocáire Box
representing Eamonn’s work with Trocáire

First Reading: Book of Wisdom 11:24-29

Read by Ms Tina Earley from Shanaglish, Co Galway, where Bishop Eamonn lived.

… “for you love all things that are and loath nothing that you have made”…

The Psalm

Mo Ghrá is mo Dhia

Sung by members of Bishop Eamonn’s family

An Dara Léacht: Litir Naomh Pól chuig na Rómhánaigh 8:31-39

Read by Mr Michael Clifford, Bishop Eamonn’s nephew.

… “nothing can separate us from the love of God; no trouble, calamity,

persecution, hunger, danger or violence can ever come between us and Him”…

GOSPEL: Luke 23:33; 39-43

Read by Bishop Brendan Kelly, Bishop of Achonry.

…“he said, ‘Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom.’  Jesus answered him, ‘Truly this day you will be with me in paradise’”

Homily – preached by Bishop Brendan Kelly

“Indeed I promise you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

These are amongst the loveliest words that Jesus spoke. Is there a man or a woman amongst us who wouldn’t love to hear them spoken to us; the promise, the assurance, our deepest hope fulfilled? … Paradise!

May we hear these words today, and may we be as humble, honest and repentant as the man hanging on another cross beside Jesus.

With God, all things are possible.  All healing, all reconciliation, all peace.  This is where we believers take our stand.  And this is why when we come together to celebrate the Holy Eucharist, we always begin with where we ourselves are at.  We begin on our knees, aware of our sin… heart sorrowful and repentant.

This must apply in the first place to those of us entrusted by the Holy Spirit with a greater responsibility in the service of God’s people.  I speak of those of us who are priests and bishops particularly.  Saint Patrick sixteen hundred years ago began his Confessio with the words, ‘I am Patrick, a sinner…’.  Pope Francis too is deeply aware of this truth.  When asked at the beginning of his Petrine ministry, “Who is Jorge Mario Bergoglio?”  After a pause he said quietly, “I am a sinner.  This is the most accurate definition.  It is not a figure of speech.  I am a sinner”.  He later added, “but I trust in the infinite mercy and patience of our Lord Jesus Christ”.  So must we.

Eamonn Casey, whose mortal remains are with us today in this Cathedral, had a long life as priest and bishop.  He did much good.  As a young priest with the Emigrant Mission in London, 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.  Later, back in Ireland, as bishop, in Kerry first and then in Galway, he acquired an even bigger profile as a man of energy and initiative.  He was a doer.  Not just within his dioceses, but on the national and international scene with the development, from 1973, of Trocáire, and as a defender of the rights of people who were oppressed and poor.  He is particularly remembered for his courage as he attended dozens of stricken people when soldiers opened fire and many people were killed and injured at Archbishop – now ‘Blessed’ – Oscar Romero’s funeral in San Salvador in March 1980.

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

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.

This is 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.  In 1992 Bishop Eamonn resigned and left the country.  He expressed his sorrow many times, apologised and asked for forgiveness.  He spent a number of years working on the missions in South America, and later in the south of England, before eventually coming home to live in Shanaglish, Co Galway.

But people had been hurt and wounded … 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.

Bishop Casey’s health deteriorated further on Ash Wednesday, the day on which believers make their way to churches to receive the mark of the ashes on their forehead.  “Dust you are, to dust you shall return.”  The road to Calvary begins.  We walk that hard road with Jesus through Lent, recognising our own need for redemption and committed with him by the repentance the ashes signifies, to the Father’s saving project for all people.  Ash Wednesday this year marked the beginning of the last stage in Bishop Eamonn’s life journey.

Calvary though is not the end for Jesus.  Neither is Calvary the end for those who take Jesus’ word to heart today and follow him.  Not because we don’t fail again and again, we do and we will, but because we trust in that same promise of Jesus to the repentant sinner on the cross beside him: “Today you will be with me in Paradise”.  Mercy has the last word on Calvary and for all who, like that ‘good thief’, turn to Jesus in faith.  May it be so for Eamonn Casey and for all of us.  For that we pray today.  In that Good News we put our trust.

Suaimhneas síoraí tabhair dó, a Thiarna, agus go lonnraí an solas bhuan mharthanach air. Go bhfaighe a anam, agus anamnacha na bhfírein uile trócaire ó Dhia agus cónaí faoi shíocháin. Améin.

Prayers of the Faithful

  1. Read by Ms Breda Ryan, founder member of Meitheal

We pray for Pope Francis and for the universal Church

Lord, continue to bless, guide and inspire Pope Francis. As we begin to make preparations for his visit to our country next year, we ask that his words and actions will continue to both comfort and challenge us to be your true disciples.

Bless too all who collaborate with him in this work, including bishops, priests, religious and the faithful people of God across the world.  Together Lord, with your grace, let us continue to build together the kingdom of God.

Lord hear us

  1. Read by Ms Ita Furlong, Bishop Eamonn’s niece

We pray for the happy repose of the soul of Uncle Eamonn

As into your hands we commend the soul of Uncle Eamonn, Lord, we ask you to welcome him home, to stand for eternity with full stature in your presence, together with his Casey and Shannahan ancestors.  Do not count his faults against him for in his heart he always desired to do your will.

After his long life of labour and service, may he rest in peace.

Lord hear us

  1. Read by Ms Helen Donovan, Bishop Eamonn’s niece

We pray for all who are bereaved today

Comfort, support and strengthen each one of Uncle Eamonn’s immediate and extended family, his colleagues and his many good friends here in Galway, in Ireland and across the world.  Each one of them knows the pain of loss.  Let the promise of eternal life give them hope so that the can find consolation and courage, even in the midst of great grief.

Lord hear us

  1. Read by Ms Helena Casey, Bishop Eamonn’s niece

We pray for all who have cared for Uncle Eamonn, particularly since he retired

For those who loved him, cared for him, visited him, minded him, nursed him, sang with him and to him and helped him in any way. For those who lifted his heart, protected his dignity and accompanied him through his final days.  For the very fine people of Shanaglish and the wonderful community and staff of Carrigoran Nursing Home.  For all these good people and for all the blessings they brought to Uncle Eamonn, we give them and we give you thanks Almighty God.

Lord hear us 

  1. Read by Mr Martin O’Connor, assistant CEO, COPE Galway

We pray for justice in our world

Lord, you call each one of us by name and you demand that we each do our full part in establishing your Kingdom, by ensuring that the hungry are fed, the naked are clothed, the homeless are sheltered and the downtrodden are set free.  Bishop Eamonn lived out his call to service and ministry with passion, energy and boundless courage.  We ask you to stir the heart of each person in this great Cathedral today to respond, as he did, to the injustices, indignities and great inequalities of our broken world. Lord, let your Kingdom come.

Lord hear us

  1. Read by Mr John Acton, clerical student for Galway Diocese

As well as looking back today, we also look forward !

Today is rightly a day for remembering.  But Lord, we cannot see what lies ahead if we keep on just looking back.  So let our remembering of Bishop Eamonn Casey inspire us to face the future with confidence and with renewed vigour.  Despite the turmoil of his life, he never lost heart, never lost hope and never lost faith.  We ask you Lord our God to renew your Church in every age and to renew us, your faithful people, this Lent so that we too would always be women and men of heart, of hope and of faith.

Lord hear us

Offertory Procession

Ms Helena Clifford Grandniece The Bread
Ms Conor McCarthy Grandnephew The Wine


Communion Reflection: read by Robbie Marcus from Shanaglish

“May he support us all the day long, till the shades lengthen and the evening comes…..”

Final Rituals

Bishop Martin Drennan, Bishop Emeritus of Galway, leads the solemn Prayers of Final Commendation.

Very Rev Canon Michael McLoughlin, Diocesan Administrator of Galway, incenses and blesses the coffin.

Final journey to the crypt

The coffin will be carried to the Cathedral Crypt by 18 people (3 relays of 6 pallbearers).

Six family members carry the coffin down the centre aisle of the Cathedral to the front door.

Six priests of the Diocese of Galway will carry the coffin from the front door to the crypt entrance.

Six family members will carry the coffin down the crypt steps.

Brief prayers will be offered in the crypt by Bishop Drennan.

Notes to Editors

  • Members of Bishop Casey’s family will sing the following hymns
    Mo grá-sa, mo Dhia Psalm
    Ag Críost an síol Offertory
    Céad mile fáilte romhat Communion

All other hymns will be sung by Galway Cathedral Choir.

  • The capacity of the Cathedral is approximately 1600 people.  The Cathedral administration is thankful to the local authorities, the Gardaí, the Poor Clare Community and all other individuals and groups who have help in the organisation of this funeral.  For information on the Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and Saint Nicholas and the Diocese of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora see
  • There are two designated areas for photographers on the Cathedral grounds – at the main (university) door – from where the coffin will emerge and near the crypt entrance at the Salmon Weir Bridge door.  No other photography is permitted in the Cathedral.  One accredited photographer, Mr Joe Shaughnessy, will be permitted to take still photographs inside the Cathedral.  He will make pictures available to the media.  Mr Shaughnessy can be contacted at [email protected].
  • Galwaybay FM intend to livestream an audio of the liturgy.  This will be available on
  • The crypt is a relatively small space and only the principal celebrants and immediate family will be able to be present at the final prayers there.  However there is an audio link between the crypt and the Cathedral so people will be asked to remain in their place until these prayers are completed.                                                      

For media contact: Diocesan Communications Officer for the Diocese of Galway: Father Diarmuid Hogan 00353 (0) 86 888 8642 or the Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Martin Long 00353 (0) 86 172 7678