Tuesday 18 June 2019

Passing of Ohio-based priest

The death has occurred in Cleveland, Ohio of Easkey native, Father Tom Flynn (86) after a protracted illness. Father Tom was the eldest of four sons of Tommy Flynn from Easkey, Sligo and Annie nee Feeney from Killargue, Leitrim.

Four Feeney sisters emigrated to Cleveland Ohio in their teens following in the footsteps of their cousins, the McKennas from Dromory, Ballingar Leitrim. Annie met and married Tommy Flynn in Cleveland. The eldest of the Feeney sisters emigrated before the youngest brother Sonny as born.

A reunion was arranged by Father Tom in 1985. Margaret was ninety two and Sonny was seventy two. Their meeting was televised on American television. Father Tom was ordained into the priesthood in 1960. He was responsible for the fundraising and overseeing of the building of the church and parish village in North Olmstead in Cleveland.

He served the parishes of St. Mel, St. Rita, St. Richard and St. Mark and founded The Church of St. Clarence in 1978. Aunts, uncles and cousins relished the visits of Father Tom in the sixties and seventies to Killargue, Newtownmanor, Easkey and Aughris Head. He was left a site in Aughris Head by an aunt and built a house there.

Father Tom always visited a few times every year and he would invite family, friends, neighbours and his McCann cousins to his house where he celebrated Mass and partied in the Cleveland room, a large function room in his house.

Father Tom was a wonderful cook and prepared food like a TV chef up until his illness struck eighteen months ago. Traditional music, set and ceili dancing and song was his forte.

He performed the marriage ceremony for many of his relatives. Known as the partying padre in Ohio, Father Tom produced records in the sixties and seventies which are now available on You Tube. He celebrated Mass at the Holy Well in Killargue on the 15th August on a couple of occasions. He loved visiting his cousins, the Fowleys in Newtownmanor, and took pride in their musical accomplishments. Father Tom oversaw the famous Emerald Ball in Cleveland for 39 years and he was the pastor on the famous Gertie Byrne cruises. Father Tom loved Sligo town and always visited Dooneys, Mullaneys and Maura McTiernan in Simones for a chat, every time he visited Ireland. He attended the Failte Cheoil whenever he could and danced and sang in McHugh's bar in Sligo in 2016. He died on 26th August and his funeral and burial took place in Cleveland, Ohio.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

- J F

Sligo Champion