Funeral takes place of Cork priest who went viral after he posted farewell online following cancer diagnosis

Funeral takes place of Cork priest who went viral after he posted farewell online following cancer diagnosis

Fr Ger Galvin, who served the Sheep's Head peninsula in West Cork, passed away last Wednesday at Cork University Hospital surrounded by his family.

THE funeral mass has taken place of a popular West Cork priest who earlier this year went viral online after he posted an emotional farewell video message to his parishioners following his terminal cancer diagnosis.

Fr Ger Galvin, who served the Sheep's Head peninsula in West Cork, passed away last Wednesday at Cork University Hospital surrounded by his family.

The priest, who was in his 60s, had developed incurable cancer in his bones and lungs. He posted a poignant farewell on the Muintir Bháire Community Council Facebook page in August in which which he thanked parishioners for their support.

At his funeral mass at the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in his native Timoleague, Church of Ireland Reverend Anne Skuse, thanked the Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Cork and Ross Dr Fintan Gavin for giving her the opportunity to speak about Fr Galvin from the altar.

Reverend Skuse said she was a close friend of the late priest.

"The very fact that I am standing here today at Ger's request perhaps tells you far more about the person he was then it does about me and I could stop there. But I am grateful to him for his love and his trust. As I said I feel truly honoured.

"Ger gave the best of himself to those he loved and who loved him. Ger was at his very core a man of generous hospitality, a man who had a big heart which he shared with so many people in so many different ways.

"'To thine own self be his true' was his motto and he tried in all aspects of his life to live by it. Ger had a deep faith in the Lord which never failed him even in the roughest of days.

"Ger Galvin was ordained to the priesthood 42 years ago. He often spoke of how it was the people who made him the priest that he was.

"Ger by his own admission was always interested in promoting unity between Christians and will be remembered fondly by the Church of Ireland community for the many ecumenical opportunities that were shared.

"He was open minded, funny and honest. Great company with so much to say for himself. He had a sharp intellect and was well read. He had a deep appreciation for the Arts. He had a natural gift for making the gospel easy and accessible to all and he preached with honesty and integrity."

Meanwhile, Fr Joe Coughlan, a retired priest of the Catholic Diocese of Cork and Ross, who celebrated the mass, said that Fr Galvin appreciated all the great kindness that was shown to him in the community before his death.

He said that Fr Galvin was a "fun loving gregarious larger than life" man. He spoke of being conscious of the large numbers of people who were watching the livestream including fellow priests Fr Galvin met whilst studying in Spain. Following the mass Fr Galvin was laid to rest in a family grave at the adjoining cemetery to Timoleague Church.

Fr Galvin's online video message where he said goodbye to his parishioners received a huge reaction online last August. In his message he said it was a recording which he had no choice but to do as he was unable to say goodbye in person.

"This is a very difficult time in my life, my shoulder is very sore, my lungs are very sore, sleeping is very difficult … I wish it wasn’t like this – I wish I could shake your hands and say ‘goodbye’ but I can’t. I don’t have the energy anymore,” he said in the online message.

Fr Galvin, who had served as parish priest in the area for over twelve years, struggled to hold back tears as he paid tribute to locals who had touched his life.

In his work he served the three main centres of population in Durrus, Ahakista and Kilcrohane.

In his message his said that he had been supported in ways he would never forget.

"Your prayers have given me the gift of healing and have helped me. Cancer is not my life. Cancer will not be my life. 

"The life I have been given is the life I have been given by the Lord. Fear, anger, resentment, self pity and much more are gone. They are replaced with hope and love."

Fr Galvin was an advocate of victims of clerical sex abuse. In 2005 he declined to read out a letter at Mass from the then Bishop of Cork and Ross, Dr John Buckley in the wake of the Ferns Report into Clerical Sex Abuse in the Catholic Church. He felt the letter was incomplete and didn't go far enough.

In 2017, during a sermon at the Sacred Heart in Durrus he also castigated the church for its failure to safeguard the innocent, following the Tuam babies revelations.

Fr Galvin was ordained at the Church of the Nativity of Our Lady in Timoleague in June of 1979. He had attended St Patrick's College in Maynooth and the Seminario de San Jeronimo, Burgos in Spain. He also served in other Cork parishes such as Skibbereen, Passage West, Monkstown and Clonakilty.

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