Wednesday 22 January 2020

Priest who had child and decade-long secret relationship with woman 42 years his junior passes away

Fr Maurice 'Mossie' Dillane hit global headlines in 2006

Fr Maurice Dillane
Fr Maurice Dillane
Denise Calnan

Denise Calnan

A priest who hit global headlines in 2006 for having an affair with a woman 42 years his junior has passed away.

Fr Maurice 'Mossie' Dillane shocked parishioners when he retired from the priesthood in January 2006 after his long-term affair with a local woman was revealed. He received a massive outpouring of public support and sympathy at the time.

He passed away peacefully on Monday in the care of UCH Galway. A private removal will be held on Thursday to St Brigid's Church, Portumna for Requiem Mass at noon.

Fr Dillane was a native of west Co Limerick and was a late vocation who joined the priesthood after working in banking.

He later served as a missionary priest in San Antonio, Texas for several years.

He returned to Ireland in the late 1990s and was assigned to the Killoran parish near Ballinasloe.

His much-publicised affair emerged in early 2006, and the couple went into hiding to avoid the glare of the media.

Fr Maurice Dillane met the woman shortly after he returned to Co Galway from San Antonio in Texas in the mid-1990s.

It is understood they were in a relationship for a total of nine years. The relationship began when she was 22 years of age.

The woman lived just yards from the church in the Killoran parish near Ballinasloe, Co Galway, where he served.

It is understood that the woman changed jobs to follow him to a new parish when he was appointed curate in Looscaun, Co Galway.

"They have known each other since Fr Mossie came back from the States," one source told the Irish Independent at the time.

"This was not just a one-off fling. They are committed to each other."

A very sociable individual, he is understood to have met his future lover at a social event before the relationship blossomed.

The relationship remained a secret until she gave birth to their child and the rumour mill went into overdrive.

The secret relationship was confirmed when the chairperson of the Woodford Pastoral Council, Justin O'Byrne, decided to seek clarification from Woodford parish Priest, Fr Patrick Naughten.

Locals and friends of Fr Dillane remained supportive of him during the time of media interest.

"He is a very nice, sociable man and was friendly to everyone, so nobody really suspected this relationship was going on," one churchgoer said at the time.

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