Picture of Fr. Sugrue



My first experience of Abbeydorney was in the Summer of 1956. I was on my way to the Gaeltacht in Ballyferriter for a short holiday when I missed the bus in Tralee. In my constenation I rang my good friend Val Rice who was a student in Maynooth with me at the time. Val invited me to stay with his family  and I had an enjoyable few days in the Rice home. Little did I think then that thirty years later I would be curate in the parish of Abbeydorney.

Three years was a short stay in any parish but yet it was a very happy though busy spell. The presbytery in Kilflynn was very comfortable and a welcome change from the hustle and bustle of Tralee where I had spent ten years. Fr Hickey was in poor health and the Bishop appointed me to the board of management of Abbeydorney Kilflynn and Killahan schools. I have many happy memories of the celebration of the Liturgy in the schools as well as First Holy Communion and Confirmation ceremonies. It was a great honour to officiate at the Blessing to the new extensions to Abbeydorney and Killahan schools.

Some years ago, I remember when people were trying to recall when certain events happened they would jokingly say; "that was the Year of the Hiker" after the play of the same name by John B. Keane.  When I think back on my stay in Kilflynn and Abbeydorney I think of the year of the funerals!  The parish had more than its share of sad funerals in the year and I often think of those who have gone to their reward and those left in bereavement.  In had charge of two Parish Priests' funerals who were buried in Abbeydorney church grounds.  They were Fr. Denis McCarthy (P.P. 1956-75) who died on 22/9/87 and Fr. Dan Hickey (P.P. 1975-89) who died on 6/2.89.  Both served the parish for 33 years between them and the churches and schools are a monument to their memory.  Two people who had a long association with the parish were Sighle Roche and John O'Brien.  I felt very privileged to be able to present Mrs Roche with the Benemercuti medal in 1987 and John O'Brien with a Spiritual Bouquet on my last Sunday in Abbeydorney.  May they all rest in peace.  But there were many happy times too in the life of the parish - the plays staged in the parish hall, the Youth Club, Senior Citizens outings, etc.  Just as people like the priest to share their times of grief they also expect him at their times of joy, weddings, christenings, house-masses and annual socials.  And there were places of relaxation in Kilflynn and Abbeydorney and the many friends who welcomed me to their homes.  One of my regrets was that I didn't have the opportunity of visiting all the families of the parish.  The three years passed so quickly.

Fr. Sugrue saying mass

In retrospect, the highlight was the Mass in Kyrie Eleeison Abbey on the 4th July, 1989.  The energetic Committee gave me the motivation to throw in my lot and make some preliminary arrangements without knowing what really was going to take place.  In mid May we fixed the date and once we had a deadline everybody got in to top gear.  My portfolio was the preparation of the Liturgy, the invitation of the Cistercians, clergy and religious.  We also booked the canopy for the altar from Ballyheigue but the glorious weather made the canopy unneccesary.  As the date approached I didn't know how many Cistercian priests and brothers would be present and I still don't know!  Some of them did some sight-seeing in Killarney (who would blame them!) and joined the procession at the half-way stage.  By popular demand the Cistercians did the readings and distributed Holy Communion to the large congregation.

Canon Jackie McKenna gave the homily and Sharon Reidy was in charge of the singing and the music.  As the Liturgy finished the strains of the Salve Regina echoed once more from the vicinity of Kyrie Eleison Abbey and a sense of history was achieved after a gap of 500 years.

The Mass was followed by a very enjoyable function in the Parish Hall.  Recently I had a letter from Fr. Alphonsus O'Connor O.Cist., of Mellifont.  He introduced himself as follows; "I am one of the cistercian monks who had the privilege and happiness of taking part in the celebration at Abbeydorney last July".  I'm sure that sums up the sentiments of all the Cistercians who participated in our celebrations.  As for myself, I feel that I can knock at the door of any Cistercian Abbey in Ireland and be welcomed.  Canon Donagh O'Donovan turned to me after mass and said "Your're leaving the parishes in a great flourish".

One interesting follow-up to our Kyrie Eleison Abbey Mass was a phone-call that I got from Fr Diskin, the parish priest of Abbeyknockmoy, Tuam, Co. Galway.  He explained how they were having a celebration at Abbeyknockmoy which was founded in 1189 by Cathal Crobh-Dhearg, son of the last High King of Ireland.  The Cistercians were invited to the Mass which was arranged for the 20th August, the Feast of St. Bernard.  His query was quite simply; "What are they like and what do they eat?"  So, I was glad to be able to put his mind at ease!  Incidentally, like Abbeydorney the parish Church in Abbeyknockmoy is dedicated to St. Bernard.

Well, I have left and taken up duty as Parish Priest of Prior.  This Parish is dedicated to St. Michael after Sceilg Mhichil.  We have a Michaelmas pattern Day on the 29th September with an open-air Mass with contingency plans to go to the church if the weather is unsuitable.  I should pray to the Holy Souls of Kyrie Eleison Abbey for fine weather.

John Browne and Fr. O'Brian

At the mass in Kyrie Eleison

John Browne and Fr. O'BrianAt the mass in Kyrie Eleison









Our Own Place