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Gurteen’s Fr Roger had a love of laughter


Fr Roger McDonagh.

Fr Roger McDonagh.

Fr Roger McDonagh.


Recently, the death took place of Fr. Roger McDonagh, a proud native of Gurteen.

Fr. Roger told many times of how his father would say that the McDonaghs were the second longest family in existence in Gurteen and was very proud to associate himself with these remarks from his Dad.

Fr. Roger was born on the 26th of May 1933, son of Patrick William and Brigid McDonagh.

He had three siblings, namely Willie Joe (orse Liam), Alfie and Lena. Lena died in 2007 and Alfie in 2011.

Fr Roger was ordained a priest at All Hallows college in Dublin on the 14th June 1959.

Shortly following ordination, Fr. Roger took up the role as a Priest in the Archdiocese of Cardiff, Wales.

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The first six years were spent as a Curate and thereafter Fr. Roger was appointed a Parish priest, where he held this position in two parish, the second of which Llantwit major and Cowbridge was a large parish and occupied the role of parish Priest there from 1974 to 1986.

Fr. Roger often commented on the high numbers of people that were returning to the Church during his time in Wales.

Priests were scarce on the ground and there was much demand for the priests that were there. Fr. Roger often recalled not having time for his meals with the heavy workload that existed.

After the retirement of a priest, from a neighbouring parish, Fr. Roger was required to keep two parishes operating and did so for two years between 1984 and 1986 when he become very Ill.

He was forced to retire from his ministry in Wales and returned to Ireland.

Fr. Roger was saddened to leave Wales and had received great fulfillment in his Ministry there.

In fact, after Fr. Roger leaving Wales, significant works had to be carried out to the Church building to cope with the large increase in numbers attending church in this parish.

Notwithstanding Fr. Rogers’ sadness in leaving Wales, he was equally happy in returning to his home in Gurteen in 1986.

As Fr. Roger recovered from illness, he approached Bishop Thomas Flynn, Bishop of Achonry at that time.

He enquired if he could fulfill a role within the Diocese of Achonry.

Fr. Roger took up position as Curate in Keash Parish, appointed to Culfadda in 1989.

He remained there until 1993 when he was moved to Kilmactigue Parish thereafter and spent many years there.

At that point Fr. Roger retired from Parish Ministry but helped out regularly with saying Mass in Croghan, County Roscommon.

Fr Roger resided for a number of years in Spellman’s motel in Ballaghaderreen and thereafter took up residence in the Abbeyhaven Nursing Home in Boyle.

The staff of the Abbeyhaven Nursing Home were wonderful to him and especially during the world occupied with covid.

Fr. Roger had great devotion to Our Lady.

Fr. Roger’s Months Mind Mass takes place in Gurteen Church at 11.30am on Sunday the 24th of April next.

Fr. Roger loved children and having fun with them. He always enjoyed visiting the schools and the fun that was had.

Fr. Roger left much value on laughter and had a habit of regularly starting his sermons with a joke.

We thank Fr. Roger for his selfless years of service to his Church and its people.

May he now receive his ultimate reward and may his kind and gentle soul rest in peace. Amen.

Fr Roger passed away on March 23rd 2022 (peacefully) in his 89th year.

He was predeceased by his parents Patrick William and Brigid,his brother Alfie and his sister Lena.

He is very sadly missed by his brother Willie Joe (Liam), cousins, sister-in-law, relatives, residents of Abbey Haven, his many friends, Bishop Paul Dempsey, and his brother Priests in Achonry and South Wales.

Many Altar Boys from the Keash parish back when Fr. Roger was based there, attended at his funeral, paying their last respects to Fr. Roger; recalling the kindness and fun that he had brought to their lives during his time in this parish.

The following is an extract from a personal reflection delivered at the Funeral Mass of Fr Roger McDonagh, prepared by him a short number of years ago.

‘Those who care about others, pick up many wounds.

‘Those wounds, may not of themselves be big wounds; only a multiplicity of little wounds, a host of scratches, wrinkles and belts. There can be a lot of invisible wounds.

‘The furrows left on the mind and heart, by hardship, worry and anxiety, disappointments, ingratitude and betrayal.

‘Those wounds are not things to be ashamed of. Those wounds are badges of glory and honour. They are proof of our love.

‘Jesus did not hide his wounds, which emphasised his love for us, for which we are healed.’