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.

14 thoughts on “An Canónach Michéal Ó Flannabhra, RIP

  1. Kathleen Staunton February 12, 2013 at 11:19 pm -

    Our deepest sympathy to all the Flannery Family at the passing of our dear Father Michael. He has been such a Special part of our family here in America and will be deeply missed but has now received his eternal reward. May he rest in peace, with our love to you all. God bless. Kathleen, Jimmy Staunton (Dunmore).

  2. Fr. Michael was my PP in the first parish I served, Ar an Tulach, Indreabhán. He was a complete gentleman to work for and an outstanding example of dedication to his priestly duty. He radiated love for the priesthood and was so happy in his work as a servant of Jesus Christ. Aireoidh mé uaim go mór é! Go ndéana Dia trócaire ar a anam!

  3. Eileen K. Carroll February 13, 2013 at 1:31 am -

    My prayers and those of all my little angels are with all of the Flannery family. I know Fr. Michael was welcomed into Heaven as soon as his soul left this world. He will be warmly remembered as a dear, holy man. The paper rosary he saved from he children he visited 15 years ago is a sign of where his treasure rested. His love and knowledge of God, the Church,, Irish culture and history were amazing. I will treasure all he taught me and the family history he shared. May his soul and all the souls of our departed loved ones rest in peace.

  4. Our sympathy go out to the Flannery family. I will always remember his trip to America and attending sporting events. His soft spoken sense of humor, dedication to his duties and enlightenment our our family history has been inspiring. He will always be in our thoughts and prayers and may he rest in peace.

  5. Betty Ann McDermott February 13, 2013 at 2:47 am -

    Welcome home good and faithful servant, I’m sure that was God’s welcome to Father Michael as his journey to his reward began. Father Michael was such a part of our lives here in America and the memories and values he shared will be lived on in the next generation of family. Thank you Michael, our love goes with you and our prayers will always be with you. Love and sympathy to the Flannery Family, John David, Seamus, Padraic & June and Thecla and also to his entire family of Priests. Always missed but never forgotten.

    Love, Betty Ann

  6. The world has lost a tremendous human being.
    Heaven has gained an angel. Not only was he
    a relative, he was a confidant, a teacher, a
    protector and a kind, gentle soul. I will miss
    his stories, his ways and his little quirks.
    I am; however, lucky to have spent the quality
    time to get to know him to learn from him
    and to be graced with his knowledge. He
    introduced me to my heritage, my family
    and many many wonderful people who I
    will always cherish. Thank you for the
    memories, they will last me a lifetime.
    Rest in Peace, and love and prayers to
    all my family and friends suffering his loss.

  7. Kathleen Staunton Jr February 13, 2013 at 6:15 am -

    My deepest sympathy, love, thoughts and prayers are with the Flannery’s today and in the coming days. Father Michael’s love and spirit will be with us always. We were all blessed to had Father Michael in our lives, his quiet nature gave one a sense of peace, and serenity . Father Michael you celebrated many events in my lifetime and with my family and your impact was great and lifelong. God bless you and may you rest in peace. You will be missed.

  8. Mary McDermott-Hill February 13, 2013 at 10:06 pm -

    Our deepest sympathy and prayers are with the Flannery family at the loss of dear Fr. Michael. He was such a kind gentle soul and we enjoyed visiting him in Spiddel and learning so much about our family history.
    We will miss him,he has left many happy memories with everyone whose lives he touched.
    Rest in Peace.
    Mary,Nick and James

  9. James Staunton (Jr) February 14, 2013 at 12:17 am -

    RIP Fr. Michael
    Thank you for the many blessings (marriages, baptisms and masses) we have enjoyed over the years. I’m sure there are many other families throughout Ireland that share our greatfulness for your work. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Flannery family.

  10. patrick f carroll February 15, 2013 at 12:51 am -

    To All The Flannery Family, we were very sad to hear of Fr. Michael’s death,but know his welcome home to heaven and his well deserved reward were awaiting his arrival. Memories will keep him alive and his soft spoken (but heard loud and clear)ways were unique to him. Our loss is heaven’s gain and our prayers are there for all of you. Until we meet again, our love to a great example of what “family” means. Rest In Peace Fr. Michael.

    Love, Patrick, Jamie, Brandon and Zachary Carroll

  11. THOMAS J. ZACCHEO, M.D. February 15, 2013 at 12:58 am -

    When you met Michael, you were aware of his great joy of life and a love of people. On our trips to Ireland and again when he was in the States he was always fun to be with and interested in the world about him. It was wonderful to talk to him about his beloved Ireland and he had numerous interesting stories about life in Ireland. When traveling with him around his parish we were always greeted by loving parishioners. His devotion to his family was apparent and I was fortunate to have been included through marriage.

    His work to promote the work of God was most successful and he has earned a place next to his maker. His was a life well lived and it was a joy to know him.

    Thomas J. Zaccheo, M. D.

  12. Janice McDermott Zaccheo February 15, 2013 at 2:02 am -

    Father Michael often brought a smile to my face, but never more than the time he was visiting my Dad, (his uncle Mike), and explained he was furthering archival research on our family of origin. The two were busily looking at current information Fr Michael had brought for his uncle to review, when I heard them both speaking Irish, not English! Despite having told me he did not remember much of that language, Fr Michael was able to “trigger” a long dormant memory in his uncle, and the two conversed into the wee hours of the morning in the Irish tongue. There were many times we recounted how much happiness he brought his Uncle over the passing on of the family history. Fr Michael’s love and devotion to his Catholic church, the priesthood, his family and his legions of friends, was admirable. His humility belied his accomplishments in his life and he is now enjoying his rightful place with his heavenly Father. Loving thoughts, Janice

  13. John J. McDermott Jr. February 16, 2013 at 2:03 am -

    Dear J.D. and The entire Flannery Family, Please accept my sincere sympathy on the passing of Fr. Michael. I’m sure the loss of a brother and best friend is difficult for all but I have no doubt what-so-ever our loving Father was there to welcome him home to his eternal reward. Michael will be remembered always for his love of family and how proud he was about the bonds he created here and are now being passed onto the next generation. Go in peace and love until we meet again…..

    God Bless.

    John (McDermott)
    California, USA

    John (McDermott)
    California, USA

  14. Brigid Staunton White February 16, 2013 at 4:59 pm -

    Father Michael blessed us with stories, history and humor that no books or movies could ever convey. We are so blessed to have had him in our lives, may he rest in peace. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of our Flannery Family.

    Love, Frank, Brigid, Caitlin and Gavin

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