The month’s memorial Mass for the late Canon Fr Brian McNamara, formerly Parish Priest of Killesher in Co Fermanagh, and a native of Cavan, will be celebrated at 12 noon in Killesher Church tomorrow (Saturday), November 11.
The hugely popular community figure, north and south of the Border, equally respected on both sides of the political divide, passed away peacefully last month, on Wednesday October 11 in the care of Tilery Nursing Home, Florencecourt.
His Requiem Mass took place at St Ninnidh's Church in Derrylin, followed afterwards by burial at St Patrick's Church in Killesher.
Aged 86, he was in the 63rd year of priesthood, and had served as Parish Priest of Killesher for almost 30 years.
Born January, 1931, at Ernevale in Belturbet, he was educated at St Patrick’s College Cavan, from where he chose a vocation to the priesthood and continued his studies at the Pontifical Irish College in Rome and the Lateran University where he was awarded a License in Sacred Theology.
Ordained to the priesthood in March, 1955, by Cardinal Clemente Micara in the Basilica of Saint John Lateran, he was first sent to serve in Birmingham, England, before returning to the Diocese of Kilmore.
There he served as Curate in Coronea (1956-1961), Maghera (1961-1963), Manorhamilton and hospital (1963-1973), and Arva (1973-1983), and finally as PP of Killesher in 1983, where he ministered until his retirement in 2012.
Described as an “extraordinarily gifted man”, he had keen interests in both GAA and farming, and was said to have been as at ease talking about the price of hoggets as he was about the mysteries of the Trinity.
The only son and heir to the family farm, despite his chosen path to the priesthood he maintained a lifelong interest in farming, and for many years was known to have managed a flock on grasslands close to the River Erne.
An avid GAA supporter, he thoroughly enjoyed trips to local matches or to national fixtures, togging out too for the Cavan minor team in an era of all-time greats who played in Croke Park in 1949.
As a pastor in Northern Ireland during difficult and tense times, his great sociability endeared him to all sides of the community. He was no sacristy priest and could be found in the midst of the people he served. His mischievous sense of humour enriched every social gathering and his solid pastoral approach brought comfort to his people in times of pain and loss.
Upon his retirement, Fr Brian moved to Derrylin where his many friends still visited and were always delighted to see him so well cared for. In recent months, as his health declined, he moved to the Tilery Nursing Home, back in his beloved Killesher.
In his Homily at the funeral Mass, Bishop of Kilmore Leo O'Reilly read an excerpt from a letter written by one of his nephews a few years ago, which he said would “strike a chord” with many.
“I have fond memories as a child of Father Mac arriving at our house in Dublin bearing loads of sweets (and I mean armfuls). Later he would arrive on his BSA motorbike on his way to England to visit his sisters. When I was a teenager, over four summers, three of my friends and I would descend on Arva… We slept on the floor of the parochial house, all the while amusing ourselves around the town, or off gallivanting with Father Mac to the flea market in Swanlinbar, an inter-county GAA match, or as he visited his parishioners, all of us crammed into his bright red Fiat 850... We dealt with cows coming into the house (frequently), a tense half hour jamming a young bull in the shed to administer medicine... He really enjoyed our company and we his.”
Fr Brian McNamara is survived by sisters, Kathleen and Josephine, nieces, nephews, relatives and many friends.