ONE of Ireland’s most controversial clerics, Bishop Eamon Casey, was admitted to a Clare nursing home last week because of ill health.
The former Bishop of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora has been in a virtual limbo in the parish of Shanaglish on the Clare-Galway border since his return to Ireland in 2006.
Bishop Casey has technically been a practicing priest for the parish over the past five years but has not been allowed to say Mass in public and has instead had to content himself by saying Mass for himself in his home.
Bishop Casey, who is popular in the locality, was admitted to a Clare nursing home last week for a period of “respite”.
A neighbour of the bishop said the cleric was “a proud man” and would be hoping to return to his own home as quickly as possible.
“I was told that he would be making an appearance in the local pub this week, that he would be given a pass out [from the nursing home] for the night, but we will have to wait and see,” the neighbour said.
“I know that the woman from the shop in Gort will be asking me when he [Bishop Casey] will be back in to collect his daily paper again. But we don’t know.
“He is a proud man and I have no doubt that he will want to be back to his house in Shanaglish again soon.”
A spokesperson from the Galway Diocese declined to make any statement on Bishop Casey’s health, saying it was a personal matter. However, the spokesperson confirmed there had been no change in the bishop’s position regarding saying Mass again in public.
Bishop Casey was one of Ireland’s most popular religious figures before it was discovered that he had fathered a child with an Irish American woman, Annie Murphy, in 1974.
This was one of the biggest scandals ever to hit the Irish Church when it came to light in 1992 and prompted Bishop Casey to tender his resignation and leave the country.
After 1992, Bishop Casey then chose to embrace the life of a foreign missionary in South America and worked with members of the Missionary Society of St James in Ecuador.
After a number of years in South America he moved to Britain before returning to Shanaglish in 2006.
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