Lochside Garage

Popular priest’s fond farewell to border parish

Fr Gabriel

TONIGHT Fr Gabriel Kelly PP will say a sad but fond farewell to the people of his parish, as he prepares for pastures new.
Speaking to the Herald ahead of his final Mass at St Naile’s Church this Saturday night, the parish priest of Kinawley and Killesher said it will be an emotional send-off, with a function in the community centre he helped establish following the service.
“It’s very sad leaving,” said Fr Kelly, who is originally from Redhills in Cavan. “It has been very sad, from Christmas on.
“I’ve been very conscious of doing everything for the last time. The last First Friday there visiting the sick and the housebound for the last time I found it very difficult.”
Fr Kelly will be continuing that work of visiting the sick, however as he is set to become the new chaplain at Cavan Hospital.
“It will differ in that it will be a full time ministry to the sick and the dying, and to bereaved families,” he said, adding it will be emotionally challenging, but very rewarding, being there for people when they need it most.
Fr Kelly added he “won’t be too far way”, and with his father having hailed from Aghadrumsee, he grew up crossing over and back the border.
“A few years ago I had my silver jubilee here and I joked that with a Fermanagh father and Cavan mother I was well suited to a cross-border parish, as part of this parish is in Swalinbar,” he said.
Speaking of that border, Fr Kelly agreed Brexit could challenges for the parish in future.
“There definitely would be a fear of a hard border returning here,” he said. “I hope that doesn’t happen, because things have been wonderful here.
“We have four churches in the parish, so people are over and back to Masses and functions, and people have memories of very difficult days with check points.
“There just would be absolute revulsion of the thought of any kind of a hard border coming back.”
Fr Kelly said he would miss the community in Kinawley and Killesher, that he’d miss the families he’d come to know well, and that he would also miss the close cross-community work he enjoyed carrying out with Captain Richard Beadle and the Protestant community.
“I’ve loved every minute of it here,” he concluded. “Kinawley has been home, and that’s how I have viewed it. It will always have that place in my heart no matter where I am.”

The Tonyarnog Road near Kinawley, which is getting worse every time it rains.

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