We’ll miss him. Father Donnegan but maybe not the way we expected to. They moved him up to Dublin. That’ll shake him up. He wouldn’t even go on the Luas before.

Not that he wasn’t an innovator. He put the aisle back into the church because they were losing out on weddings. Some oul architect had wanted to make the church more inclusive and open plan and at one point there was talk of an atrium. But they didn’t think it through. “Brides want an aisle Ann,” he said to me at the festival launch.

And of course when he got the electric car so the petrol collection becames the Solar Collection.

Offerings to the sun god my sister Geraldine calls it. She’d be into all that Druid stuff. But she didn’t pay for any current though.


There was excitement about the new priest. Well..what passes for excitement around here. There weren’t many who care. And then we heard it was going to be a Young Priest. There’d always be a bit of fuss over a young priest. In the old days, there’d be a strong chance he’d train the hurlers or even line out with them as well or be into the dogs or something but now a Young Priest could mean he means business. Poking around the affairs of the previous fella. Asking questions. Like “Why is there a greyhound called Father Donnegan’s Maldini”

And then there’d be some of the local wans -the older wans- speculating on whether he’d be good looking. “Maybe he’ll be like the fella out of Derry Girls,” say Mrs Leary in the shop.

Well when he arrived he was closer to looking like one of the Burkes. Very much by the book. The only one in his class in Maynooth they say. Long ago, there’d be hundreds in the class. A big scattering of country lads with all the messers and mad yokes that go with it. Now you’re there because you want to be there. Fierce strict. There was no question of skipping any sermons to get to the match. There was ructions over the First Confession. Some of the children got given a whole decade of the rosary for penance.

long gospel

But this was his first Holy Week in the parish and he obviously wanted to make his mark. The Long Gospel he said needs to be a Passion Play. He had rehearsals. He was handing out roles. And he got takers. You see anyone that’d be into the acting – even fierce pagans – went in for it.

The only thing letting the side down was us. The Crowd. The crowd get a few lines in the Long Gospel. The Young Priest couldn’t audition us, and straight away he could see we weren’t up to scratch.

It got to the Barrabas bit. Young Molly Costigan was the narrator. “And the crowd ROARED,” she said.

“Give us barrabas,” we whispered. In Father Donnegan’s day that would have been that. The narrator would have moved on.

“Again,” says The Young Priest. We were puzzled. What did he mean?

Molly cottoned on quick. “And the crowd ROARED.”

“Give us Barrabas!” we said a bit louder. Not loud enough for The Young Priest.

Four times he had us do it. “One of the most dramatic moments in your religion,” he says. “Say it like you mean it,” he says.

By the fourth time. “GIVE US BARRABAS!!!” and after it you could hear Fonsy Ryan had got carried away. He never liked Barrabas it would appear.

The Young Priest might not be to everyone’s taste but he can get a crowd to do something. I might rope him into the Tidy Towns. That’s a young man’s game.