Fr Johnnie celebrates 50 years in the priesthood

A PRIEST who spent nine years serving the parish of Kinawley in the 1980s had a double-celebration last weekend.

Fr. Johnnie Cusack, who was based in the village between 1981 to 1990, racked up both his 50th Diamond anniversary in the Priesthood as well as his retirement from active ministry.

Ordained back in 1963, 85-year-old Fr. Cusack hosted his final Mass at Aughnasheelin Church in Co. Leitrim as well as a small celebration at the Community Hall there afterwards.


Despite it being 33 years since he last held Mass there, Fr Cusack is still fondly remembered at Kinawley and he himself states that the village still has a place in his heart.

“I had nine very special years in Kinawley alright between 1981 and 1990,” he said. “The Troubles was still going on but I enjoyed my time there.

“When you’re in a situation you try to continue to do your ordinary thing. You’re praying with people, you’re talking to people, and you’re living, eating and drinking.

“Despite The Troubles, people would come together – we would have sports days and a number of functions in the hall during the year as well. It was just wonderful.

“I still go back there. My housekeeper, Peggy, was with me for all that time and both she and I were very well received there. We love to go back there for concerts and shows.

“I come and meet up with people that I knew so well and I’m invited back up for weddings as well.”

Fr Cusack left Kinawley to serve the Parish of Balinglera in Co. Leitrim when he spent seven years – although that was briefly interrupted when he was called to Lagos in Nigeria at the back end of 1993 to early 1994.


He added: “There was a priest out there who had to come home due to having some kidney troubles.

“He was able to get treatment at Sligo Hospital while I took over for him in Nigeria. That was around 1993 to 94.

“People are people wherever you go but by and large, they were warm and good and they just loved Sunday Mass.

“Their enthusiasm and their singing made Mass services come alive. I met some lovely, charming people. I never met anyone who was out to get me – thank God – but I’m glad that I went out there.”

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