Father Willie Russell got a fantastic send-off from the locals – Pictured above are Cllr. Adam Teskey, Fr. Morris Costello, Seamus Hogan, Gia Sheridan, Breda McCarthy, Brid Meehan, & Nora McCarthy (back) and Fr. Robbie Coffey, Peter Donovan, Fr. Willie Russell, Noel White & Amanda Sheridan (front).
Father Willie Russell served the community for 22 years at St. Mary’s Church
All Rathkeale came together to bid farewell to Father Willie Russell, their priest who served the community for 22 years at St. Mary’s Church.
The freshly painted Community Hall in Rathkeale, Co. Limerick, was packed with well-wishers on Tuesday, September 6th. Speaker after speaker wished Fr. Willie, well serving Abbeyfeale and its surrounding districts and Brid Meehan read a Tribute to a Clare Man, the poem she authored for the occasion. Welcome guests included Fr. Willie’s family and Fr. Liam Enright, who returned from his new parish in Limerick City.
“It was a wonderful opportunity to work with so many great people in historic Rathkeale,” said Father Willie Russell. He concluded to a standing ovation from the crowd saying, “My only wish is that Christmas could be extended to 365 days.” Christmas is the wedding season for migrant Travellers who visit the town, and many would like it extended throughout the year.
The send-off was organised by Amanda Sheridan, Breda McCarthy, Nora McCarthy and Gia Sheridan, members of Rathkeale’s Traveller community, with assistance from settled members of the parish, Downes Eurospar and the other providers of the wonderful food. Seamus Hogan was the charming master of ceremonies, the musicians played beautifully, and George Daly skilfully recorded the event. The excitement of winning was raised by so many raffle prizes generously donated by the Traveller community and local businesses.
“Our doors are always open to Fr. Willie in Rathkeale,” said Amanda Sheridan after she and the organisers were thanked for bringing both communities together in celebration of this special man from Clare.
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