Bishop Casey 'was a great source of love', says grieving family
Bishop Eamonn Casey's family described him as a "great source of love" after he passed away at a nursing home in Co Clare following an illness.
The 89-year-old died peacefully at around 2pm at the Carrigoran House Retirement and Convalescent centre in Newmarket-on-Fergus yesterday.
Bishop Casey was praised for his fearless humanitarian work but will forever be remembered for the scandal that rocked the nation when it emerged he had fathered a child with American divorcée Annie Murphy.
The controversial bishop left Ireland in 1992 after his secret was discovered, spending 14 years in exile in South America.
However, he subsequently returned to Ireland, and has spent the last number of years in a nursing home as he battled Alzheimer's disease.
It is understood that his funeral will take place on Thursday.
In a statement last night, the family of Bishop Casey recognised the work he had done throughout his life for the downtrodden.
The statement read: "On behalf of his son, Peter, his brother, Father Micheál, his sister, Ita Furlong, nieces and nephews, grand-nieces and grand-nephews, great-grand nieces and great-grand nephews, we wish to acknowledge the priestly work of Bishop Eamonn, especially in the pursuit of social justice for the marginalised, as evidenced by his work with Shelter in London in the 1950s and 1960s and later with his involvement in the setting up and development of Trócaire.
"Notwithstanding the demands on his time, Bishop Eamonn was a great source of love and support, making himself available to celebrate and to empathise with us in all our important family occasions.
"We wish to thank all of those who supported him in the past, in particular, the clergy and the people of the dioceses of Galway and Kerry, the Irish community in London, his many friends in Limerick and throughout the country and abroad."
Bishop Casey became a high-profile and popular media personality in the 1970s and 1980s.
He became a household name when he introduced Pope John Paul II at Ballybrit Racecourse in Galway in 1979.
His downfall, though, was one of the first major scandals to hit the Catholic Church in Ireland.
In 1992, it emerged that he had engaged in an affair with Ms Murphy, and had fathered a child with her.
The news scandalised Catholic Ireland and he was forced to leave the country in a storm of controversy.
Ms Murphy was a second cousin once removed from Bishop Casey and the pair had met once when Ms Murphy was young but began their affair in 1973, meeting up all over Dublin, after she moved here.
"When Eamon picked me up from the airport that day in 1973, a light went on, there was a spark, that was it. It was as if you believe in reincarnation and we had just picked up from a previous life, as if I had known him all my life," she said in 2012.
Bishop Casey was also involved in charity work throughout his career, helping to set up aid agency Trócaire.
His nephew TD Pat Casey said Bishop Casey's heart belonged to the west of Ireland.
He said: "Uncle Eamonn was devoted to his Catholic ministry and to the people of his parishes and subsequently his dioceses. As a family we are also acutely aware of the controversies in Uncle Eamonn's life.
"He has passed from this life during the Christian season of Lent which considers such themes as sacrifice, atonement and reconciliation."