A Catholic diocese has received more than €670,000 in a will.
But the diocese of Killaloe -- which has been reliant on its 90 priests to keep it out of the red over the past three years -- can only use the money to educate young men to become priests and to promote vocations.
According to the diocese's annual accounts for 2010 and 2009, the diocese received €678,330 under a 'specific legacy' over the two years to boost vocations.
A diocesan spokesman said yesterday that a further allocation will appear under the same heading in the diocese's 2011 accounts, which are not due to be published until next December.
Over the past three years, priests have personally donated between €1,000 and €3,000 per annum to pay more than €500,000 to the diocese.
The payments end on December 31 and have ensured that the diocese recorded a surplus last year of €93,941.
This year was the first time in 14 years that the diocese ordained two priests in the one year -- Fr Ger Fitzgerald of Castleconnell in Co Limerick and Fr Ger Jones of O'Brien's Bridge in Co Clare.
The diocese's director of vocations, Fr Iggy McCormack, said yesterday that the legacy "is an extraordinary gift and extraordinarily generous in terms of resources promoting vocations. Other diocese would be struggling with resources in promoting vocations, but we have no struggle."
Fr McCormack said that he is currently dealing with three men considering studying for the priesthood.
"Some of them may go on to study for the priesthood, some of them may not, but I am very pleased with the level of support from parishes for vocations where parish prayer groups are continuing to pray for vocations," he said.