Ordination of Reverend Martin Shanahan to the priesthood for the Diocese of Killaloe

04 Jun 2018

See homily of Bishop Fintan Monahan below for the Ordination Mass of Father Shanahan


The Reverend Martin Shanahan was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Killaloe yesterday, the Feast of Corpus Christi, by Bishop Fintan Monahan, Bishop of Killaloe.  Bishop Monahan preached the homily at the Ordination Mass which was celebrated in Saint Mary’s Church, Mullagh, Co Clare at 3.00pm.

In his homily Bishop Fintan focused on the centrality of the Eucharist in the life of the priest.  He reminded the congregation of Martin’s great work in spearheading the renewal of Eucharistic Adoration in many parishes throughout the Diocese of Killaloe saying; “The diocese is deeply indebted to him for the outstanding service offered in promoting this powerful prayer apostolate.  His work has a long lasting and continuing legacy of prayerfulness and communion with God in such a special way.”

Bishop Fintan also expressed gratitude for the experience that Martin brings to the priesthood from his working and family life.  Martin’s late wife, Mary Margaret, who died in 2011, was especially remembered during the ordination ceremony and their son Eoin was the organist for today’s ceremony.  Bishop Fintan concluded his remarks by welcoming Father Martin as a colleague in the presbyterate of the Diocese of Killaloe saying; “I hope you will be very happy and fulfilled as a priest of Jesus Christ.  I know you will continue to do outstanding work.  May the Lord reward you for your dedication, commitment and love of the Lord!  Go maire tú an ola agus go raibh cóta bhán Chríost timpeall ort inniu agus gach lá mar shagart naofa!  Áiméan.”

Father Martin will celebrate his First Mass of Thanksgiving in the Church of Our Lady Star of the Sea in Quilty this evening at 7.00pm.  Please see under notes below for a biography of Father Martin Shanahan.


Today with the feast of Corpus Christi all over the world our profound reverence for the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is demonstrated at Masses, in Eucharistic Processions, periods of worship and Adoration, along with many different other events.  We remember back with great memories to the inter-national Eucharistic Congress in Dublin six years ago in 2012 that helped to renew our faith and appreciation of the Mass or the Eucharist.

Processions, parades, marches often demonstrate in a serious and stated way, in ritual terms the reverence, esteem and regard we have for something.  The parade of the Artane Boys Band before the all-Ireland final.  Saint Patrick’s day parades in every town and village around the country.  Corpus Christi processions with those that have just received their first Holy Communion.  These rituals can demonstrate the passion and depth of feeling we have for something.

Eucharistic Procession – Norm

Every time we gather for Eucharist we process or march – maybe not always in such a formalised way – but in a real way, to a sacred place – to leave the mundaness, routine of life to enter in prayer into a Holy Space of that Sacred Covenant spoken of earlier in the Scriptures – in the Holy Sacramnet of the Eucharist.  Generations before us have done this so often, to churches, Mass Rocks, station houses, pilgrimage sites. 

Mass in a Connemara Cabin

There is painting in the National Gallery on loan from the Trustees of Edinburgh diocese calledMass in a Connemara Cabin by an artist called Aloysius O’Kelly.  The painting is dated from 1883 and it seems to situated in Ballinakill or Letterfrack  parish in Connemara.  The painting captures so much of the theology, spirituality, devotion, essence of what we celebrate in the Eucharist.

The Painting

In the painting :

There is a young priest, probably newly ordained just after celebrating a house station in a small cabin emparting a reverential gesture of blessing.

There is a young bearded man, full of strength in his prime, dressed in his Sunday best of the time – genuflecting respectfully on one knee.

There is an old woman almost totally prostrate on the ground in humble worship.

A young girl looks up in wonder and amazement.

An elderly woman in a traditional red shawl has her head bent in reverence and prayer.

A wild looking man in the background with a fiery red head seems to be tamed and calmed by the reflected glow of the presence of of what he has witnessed in the sacredness of the occasion.

The lighted candles on the altar of God – the kitchen table –  point to the source of nourishment and food for body and soul.  I am the bread of Life … He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood will live for ever.

A picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is very much a focal point, not dominating, but gently drawing us, hinting at Love of God made real in the incarnation, in the sacred heart of Jesus, in the body and blood of Jesus poured out for us.

Special Sacred Moment Captured

The small community of people are utterly united in a sacred moment or locket of time, a snapshot of the faith of people in profound worship to God in the Eucharist.  The simplicity and basic-ness of the dwelling, the poverty of the people at a difficult time in Irish history somehow evaporates momentarily in the richness of what their faith gifts them with – a sense of the presence of the Divine.

It captures the holy exchange that is possible because of the Word being made flesh.

The incarnation is in effect the domestication of the word of God.  The Eucharist takes this to yet an even deeper level.  God’s tremendous glory being brought down to our level, being made present in bread and wine, the bread of angels in our homes and hearts, our communities, our churches our chapels.

As they hymn in yesterday’s evening prayer intones:

Come, adore this wondrous presence:

Bow to Christ, the source of grace!

Here is kept the ancient promise

Of God’s earthly dwelling place!

Ordination as Priest

Today Martin is to be ordained as a Priest of Jesus Christ so that he will have the power invested in him through the Rite of Ordination to re-enact that sacred ritual, to “Do this in Memory of Me” – that wonderful exchange from heaven to earth that he will have the privilege of celebrating on a daily and weekly basis with and for the faithful whom he will serve. 

 Chairperson of Diocesan Adoration Committee 

For years, as chairperson of the diocesan committee, Martin spearheaded the diocesan campaign to set up formal times of Eucharistic Adoration in parishes throughout the diocese.  The diocese is deeply indebted to him for the outstanding service offered in promoting this powerful prayer apostolate.  His work has a long lasting and continuing legacy of prayerfulness and communion with God in such a special way.


At the heart of Eucharist is thanksgiving.  Worship and thanksgiving to God who has provided and given so generously to us.  Ag Críost and síol.  Ag Críost an Fómhar!  It is that same generous and spontaneous gesture of thanksgiving that motivated the thanksgiving of the community at Quilty (of whom Martin is an integral part of) to construct a church, Our Lady, Star of the Sea all those years ago in thanksgiving to God for saving the lives of so many who were so close to peril.  We thank God that a member of that faith community has generously offered himself in response to God’s call to be a leaven of thanksgiving and communion in our diocese.

Meaning of the term Deacon

On the feast of Christ the King when Martin was ordained deacon we had the opportunity to reflect on the meaning of what it means to be a deacon.  The word “deacon” is derived from the Greek word diákonos (διάκονος), which is a standard ancient Greek word meaning “servant”, “waiting-man”, “minister”, or “messenger”.  One of the interpretation as to its meaning or etymology is that it literally means “through the dust”, referring to the dust raised by the busy servant or messenger.  What a great image for Martin today as well as last December.  In Killaloe we hope that Martin has the sleeves rolled up and is ready to blaze a trail to raise much more dust the length and breadth of the diocese from Quilty to Kinnity, from Killaloe to Loop head!  We had a little chat yesterday about where that dust might settle and all will be revealed when it indeed does settle after the excitement of these fiesta days in the parish of Kilmurray Ibrikane.

ESB analogy – Power and Light

Having worked in the ESB for many years one would hope on the feast of Corpus Christi that he would bring some of the power and energy and strength of the Lord in The Bread of Life to us in his ministry along with the light of Jesus Christ and of course not forgetting while he’s on a roll the renewable wind energy of the Holy Spirit that we celebrated just two weeks ago here in Mullagh at Confirmation!

Generous Service

Martin has already given a lifetime of service in his work, in relation to family, community and in the diocese.  He has served and continues to serve with spontaneous generosity – remarkably and most generously he has been called to and has freely responded to that call to continue this at a time when, in practically every other walk of life he would be long since retired.

Wealth of Experience

Being an employee of the ESB for over 30 years, having been a married man and a family man for many years, Martin brings a wealth of knowledge and experience of so many pastoral situations.  Having met his beloved wife, Mary Margaret O’Flaherty from Inis Oirr, Father Tom Ryan,  currently Parish Priest of Shannon, had the privilege of assisting at their wedding in June 1992 and eventually Eoin their son arrived and we have the joy of listening to him on the organ today during this ceremony and for a beautiful instrumental at the Offertory in a short while.  No doubt Mary Margaret is with us in spirit today.  May God increase her glory in heaven.

The Priest – man of Prayer

As priest, we will look to Father Martin to be a man of prayer, a man who having spent prolonged times of profound communion with the Lord in adoration and like Moses will be able to share the radiance of the presence of the Lord to and with those to whom he will minister.

The Priest – Preaching the Word of God

A big part of Martin’s ministry as priest will be around the word of God.  As priest, he will be called upon in the service of preaching and teaching the Word of God for so many occasions and rituals from birth to death, in happy and sad times, through thick and thin.  He will bring the hope and good news of the Gospel through his preaching and through the witness of his gentle, unassuming, friendly personality and simple lifestyle that echoes the presence of the carpenter from Nazareth who transformed the world forever.

Congratulations, blessings

Congratulations and every blessing to Martin on this happy day.  We rejoice and celebrate with you and your and promise to keep you in the prayers for the generous ministry of service you are about to take on.  It is great to have you as an esteemed colleague of the presbyterate of Killaloe diocese.  I hope you will be very happy and fulfilled as a priest of Jesus Christ.  I know you will continue to do outstanding work.  May the Lord reward you for your dedication, commitment and love of the Lord!  Go maire tú an ola agus go raibh cóta bhán Chríost timpeall ort inniu agus gach lá mar shagart naofa!  Áiméan.


Notes for Editors

  • Biography of Father Martin Shanahan: Father Martin is a native of Quilty in the parish of Kilmurry Ibrickane in West Clare.  He was educated at the local national school and Miltown Malbay Vocational School and worked for over thirty years with the ESB in Milltown Malbay and in Moneypoint.  He was married to Mary Margaret O’Flaherty in 1992, he has one son Eoin who is currently a third level student.  Mary Margaret died in 2011.  Martin worked as a volunteer for many years in community groups and Church organisations in the Diocese of Killaloe and in his local parish.  He was the first Chairman of the Killaloe Diocesan Eucharistic Adoration Apostolate.   He pursued theological studies at the Priory Institute in Tallaght under the direction of the Dominicans.  He entered Maynooth to study for the priesthood in the Diocese of Killaloe in 2015.  Martin was ordained to the diaconate in the diocesan Cathedral of Saints Peter & Paul, Ennis, on Sunday 26 November 2017 and has been ministering as a deacon in Ennis Parish since that time.

For media contact

Father Brendan Quinlivan      Killaloe Diocesan Communications Officer   +353 87 273 6310

Father Ignatius McCormack   Killaloe Diocesan Vocations Director            +353 86 277 7139

Martin Long, Catholic Communications Office, Maynooth                          +353 86 172 7678