Tuesday 20 February 2018

Sadness at the death of Fr. Sean

The late Fr. Sean Ryan. Picture: Paul Connor
The late Fr. Sean Ryan. Picture: Paul Connor

Hubert Murphy

THE GREATEST treasure Fr. Sean Ryan SMA (80) held was his ability to be simply himself, no matter the occasion or the company.

Just over two years ago, the Louth Village native took leave of his adopted home in Drogheda and departed into his retirement.

Sadly, last Saturday, he passed away at SMA House, Blackrock Road, Cork. His funeral was to St. Joseph's SMA Church, Wilton, on Monday.

Fr. Sean Ryan was a man who never took himself too seriously and some of his stories, never mind the odd homily, were priceless.

He had been in town for six years, Tallanstown before that, but had spent 42 years in Nigeria on the missions.

At his farewell mass, Monsignor Jim Carroll spoke warmly of Fr. Ryan's contribution to life in Drogheda and his role in the Church over a lifetime.

'He's made a mighty contribution and no doubt in his time in Nigeria enjoyed lots of yams and fish. We thank him for everything he has done,' he said.

Following the farewell mass, a special night was organised in the Barbican, with lots of music, reminding Fr. Ryan of his time in Africa, and chat and presentations from local schools.

The O'Raghallaigh's even had a championship medal specially struck as a token of his support for the club.

Fr. Sean was born in Louth village and went on to be ordained a priest for the Society of African Missions on 18 June 1958. He was appointed to Midwest Nigeria and after some months in the Tyrocinium studying the local languages and culture, Fr. Ryan was appointed to Ughelli.

He had learned the language so he could hear confession, but welcomed the move and could often be seen out and about on his bicycle, with notebook in hand.

At times he travelled by canoe to meet his parishioners, it was an ardous but satisfying experience.

He returned to his first posting in the early 1980s and the locals were delighted. He was the first white man ever to return to their midst after leaving.

A large crowd turned out for his last mass in Drogheda two years ago to say goodbye, something that wasn't lost on him. 'There's an old saying in Nigeria, the better the send-off, the happier they are to get rid of you!' he mused.

Mass will be offered for the repose of his soul on Friday, February 28, at 8 p.m. in the church in Louth Village. Fr Sean 'the Apostle of the western Ijaws' might get another great send-off.

Drogheda Independent

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