Clergy out in force to honour colourful 'cupid priest'
Published 31/08/2011 | 05:00
THE man dubbed Ireland's "cupid priest", who was equally renowned for his clashes with church authority, was honoured by his fellow clergymen yesterday.
Three bishops and 45 priests concelebrated the funeral Mass of Fr Michael Keane in his home church of St Colman's in Claremorris, Co Mayo.
Best remembered as the founder of the Knock Marriage Bureau in 1968, and the priest who oversaw more than 48,000 introductions which led to almost 900 marriages, Fr Keane (86) was mourned by extended family members and the local community.
He died at a local nursing home last weekend following a short illness.
Archbishop Michael Neary of Tuam described him as a man of principle who was always willing to go out of his way to fight against injustice.
Fr Keane had clashed with the former Archbishop of Tuam, Dr Joseph Cunnane, in the mid-1970s over his proposed transfer from the parish of Carnacon in Mayo.
When he transferred to a parish in Templeogue in Dublin shortly afterwards, he became embroiled in a dispute with his parish priest which led to the then Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Dermot Ryan, stripping him of his faculties to say Mass.
Worse was to come in 1981 when Fr Keane was evicted from his curate's house by bailiffs acting on foot of a court order.
But a reconciliation in 2000 saw him restored as a priest of good standing in Tempelogue and his power to say Mass was returned by Archbishop Desmond Connell.
Dr Neary acknowledged his chequered past, telling mourners that Fr Keane had "a colourful and sometimes fraught series of relationships with more than one archbishop".