Bishop still has "a long way to go"

 

ELLEN Farrell was up early yesterday morning. She went to first Mass and then scrubbed the two chalked words off the entrance road to Dr Comiskey's palace in Summerhill in Wexford.

"No Return!" they read in foot high letters. By the time the bishop's PR adviser, Barbara Wallace, drove up to the house at 9.30 a.m. they were a milky blur. Only the exclamation mark remained.

Mrs Farrell has lived in the gate lodge of the palace for 66 years - her father was the bishop's gardener. She hadn't seen Dr Comiskey since his return but she said she was delighted he was back.

Ms Wallace met the press at the back door. The night before had been a small step, she said. "But he's a long way to go." She said the bishop had arrived in secret on Friday night. He had written his homily in about two hours and read it to the household before he left to deliver it in Enniscorthy.

He wrote it in one draft, she said. It came out more gutsy that way. "I know that man has done nothing wrong," she said.

Inside, Dr Comiskey was having coffee with Dr Paddy McKiernan, a consultant physician at Wexford General Hospital. As he left, Dr McKiernan said he was there as a friend, not a doctor.

Around 10 a.m. the priests at nearby Rowe Street church were told the bishop would be saying 12.30 Mass there. Father Tommy Brennan, the priest who drove him to the Mass the night before, arrived and said his return was welcome. "I would, before God, believe that what he did was the right thing," he said.

Father Brennan agreed the bishop had lost weight since he left, adding that he would swim every day as part of his treatment. "I just simply believe he's a very good man. I've worked with him for 10 years and I love and respect the man."

Shortly before 12.30 p.m., Father Brennan appeared with a grey vinyl suitcase and drove a car to the doorway. "Good morning lads," Dr Comiskey said when he emerged. He was not going beyond the pleasantries. He said he could not answer four months of accusations in four days.