An Canónach Michéal Ó Flannabhra, RIP

A Tribute to Canon Michael Flannery by Archbishop Micheal Neary below.

Born                                                                 April 4th, 1935

Ordained                                                          June 19th, 1960

Prefect in St. Jarlath’s College                           1960 – 1961Tiernea

S.C., Tír an Fhia                                               1961 – 1971

C.C., Cloonfad                                                 1971 – 1977

Ministry in Galway Diocese (Camus)                 1977 – 1978

C.C., Cloonfad                                                 1978 – 1981

S.C., Cornamona                                             1981 – 1990

S.P., An Cnoc (Cois Fhairraige)                       1990 – 2010

Appointed Canon of Cathedral Chapter            2007

Retired to Milltown                                           2010.

Died                                                                 12th of February, 2013

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam

An tAth. Michéal Ó Flannabhra – Homily for Funeral Mass

Thursday, February, 14th, 2013, St. Joseph’s Church, Milltown

The world into which Fr. Michéal Flannery was ordained in 1960 was very different from the one in which he ministered prior to his retirement two and a half year ago.   I first got to know him when I was a student in St. Jarlath’s and he was Dean of Studies, entrusted with keeping 300 young students quiet in one big study hall for about 3 hours a day.  When one considers the community building in which Fr. Michéal came involved later in his priesthood he must have experienced the task of Dean of Studies as very confining.

Early Appointments and Interests

In 1961 he moved to Tiernea, áit ar chuir sé snas ar a chuid Gaeilge. Thit sé i ngrá le nósanna agus traidiúin agus cultúir na Gaeltachta.  He a great interest in sean-fhocla, local dialects and old Irish prayers and did much to preserve and publish them in the various parishes he served.

Cloonfad and Camus

From Tiernea he moved to the Eastern boundaries of the Archdiocese to Cloonfad.  This was to be his only pastoral assignment outside the Gaeltacht. Nuair a bhí sé i gCluain Fada, chaith sé bliain amháin ar iasacht go Deoise na Gaillimhe, sa Ghaeltacht, i gCamus ó 1978-1979

Cornamona – Ceantar Dhúiche Sheoighe

In 1981 he moved to Cornamona, Joyce country, ceantar Dhúiche Sheoighe, a place that he loved dearly.  During this time he became very aware of grants which contributed significantly to the development of the local area.  Fr. Michéal worked with politicians and public representatives to improve the quality of life in the area.

Community Builder

Being a man who understood the importance of community – there were few more aware, more expert or more astute when it came to the workings of the various grants and schemes for different community projects than was Fr. Michéal.  When visiting him shortly before he died I teased him about this, suggesting if he hadn’t been a priest he would have been an excellent politician.  He just smiled a knowing smile, and nodded with a rather mischievous eye.  Every organization which had any relationship with the parish and which was for the betterment of the people received his full support.

An Cnoc 1990-2010
This continued when he became Parish Priest í Paróiste an Cnoic.  Sa bhliain 1990 chuaigh sé go ceantar Cois Fharraige, Paróiste an Chnoic mar shagart phobail.  Ar feadh scór bliana d’fhreastal Michéal go thoil agus go hiomlán ar riachtainaisí spioradálta na daoine ansin mar Shagart Phobail ar an gCnoc agus ar an Tulach.

Obair agus Seirbhís gan staonadh

Is iomaí duine a thug faoi deara agus iad ag dul an bóthar go mbíodh Michéal ag obair go deireannach san óiche i dteach an tSagairt, ag plé le gnó coistí ar son leas an phobail, Comharcumainn, Scéimeanna Uisce, Cumainn Forbartha, Boird Scoile, Scéimeanna Tithíochta, Ath-chóiriú sean-Scoil Sailearna, Cumann na Sagairt, Comhluadar Sagairt na Gaeltachta, ag réiteach le haghaidh TG4 ag an am, Glór na nGael, Cúrsaí Gaeilge don tSamhraidh agus go leor leor rudaí eile nach iad.  Más rud é go raibh deontas le fáil le haghaidh rud ar bith – mura mbeadh fhios ag Michéal faoi – ní bheadh fhios ag aon duine faoi.  Bhí sé i gconaí ag saothrú ar son leas an phobail.

It was most fitting that the year Canon Michael retired that his huge work in the area of community building was recognized by NUI in presenting him with an honorary Masters in Rural Community Development.

Contribution and interest in Tuam Archdiocese

In 2007 he was appointed a Canon of the Archdiocese, an honour which he wore very lightly.  He had a wonderful interest in history and especially in the folklore and history of the Archdiocese.  At the gatherings of priests, whether at Confirmation dinners or elsewhere he loved to discuss these matters. He was blessed with a wonderful memory and was a great source of information regarding the priests and people of the diocese going back the years.

Good Humour – Sociable Nature

Michael was very pleasant company and in his own mischievous manner he liked to set up an argument by throwing in a grenade of one kind or another in order to set the tone.  I have very happy memories of occasions like this and I enjoyed meeting him with priests after Confirmation.

Interest in GAA

As a keen follower of Gaelic football he enjoyed playing the game and I gather gave good as he got on the field!  He had a huge interest in the fortunes of the parish teams in which he served and was a life-long supporter of Milltown, St. Jarlath’s College and of course the Galway football team in good times and bad.

Priestly Fraternity

Canon Michael was utterly committed to the ideal and value of priestly fraternity.  During his early years as a priest in the rural areas of the Archdiocese it was not easy for priests to meet and socialize.  With that on mind – many of the priests met regularly, had a meal, shared news and stories and often played cards together.  Michael absolutely loved those gatherings.   Nothing gave him more delight than taking the few bob off fellow priests in such card games at which he excelled.  Clericalism is often spoken of in negative terms these days – but the clericalism that Michael espoused was imbued with a genuine brotherly fraternity and love of things priestly.

Living with the Cross of ill health

While he carried the cross of ill-health for many years, it did not in any way diminish his availability for, involvement in or support for the people he served so generously.  Thirteen years ago when on holiday in the United States he suffered a serious heart attack but such was his determination that he continued working with and for the people he served. There was an irrepressible and what seemed to be an indestructible dimension to his priesthood.  It is hardly a coincidence that the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, World day of the Sick was about to end when Canon Michael returned to meet his creator.

Milltown – Through and Through

He was always very proud of his Milltown roots and his family.  He acknowledged that it was the people of his parish who inspired him in so many ways.  Indeed the Flannery family have contributed so much priesthood and Religious Life in our diocese and elsewhere through, Canon John D., Fr. Seamus and the late Sr. Joy, go ndeana Dia trócaire ar a hanam.

I know that Fr. Michéal would want me to express his deep appreciation of all that he has received from his family, from his devoted housekeeper, Peggy, and the people of Milltown and the people he has served in the parishes in which he ministered, particularly the people of Knock-Spiddal.


Fr. Micheál was utterly steeped in the traditions and lore of many previous generations of Tuam Clergy.  He will be sadly missed by the fraternity of the Tuam Presbyterate, many former parishioners, his wide circle of friends, not to mention his devoted and loving family.  To use his own phrase in talking about a dedicated priest – Sagart ar fad a bhí ann.  Michael was just that – a loyal and devoted servant of Jesus Christ.  May he reap the reward to that at the banquet table of the Lord in heaven as we speak.  They had better watch out because after the banquet – he will be all set to take a few bob from them once the stories get going and the game of cards start!  Go raibh leaba aige i measc na naoimh agus go ndéana Dia trócaire ar a anam uasal gaelach.

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