Former Archbishop of Tuam dies


Tributes have been paid to the former Archbishop of Tuam, Dr Joseph Cassidy, who died this morning.

The current Archbishop of Tuam, Dr Michael Neary, paid tribute to his “gifted” predecessor who died at his home in Ballinasloe after a period of ill-health, aged 79.

The retired archbishop had served the Diocese of Clonfert for 28 years including five years as bishop, before he transferred to Tuam as archbishop in 1987.

Archbishop Neary replaced Dr Cassidy as Archbishop of Tuam in 1995 and he said a great wave of sadness had enveloped the parishes of the diocese since Dr Cassidy’s death.

“It is a very sad day for the Tuam archdiocese, but also for his family and his sisters’ families: he was very close to his own family. His death casts a great sadness over the diocese,” said Archbishop Neary.

“He ordained me as bishop in 1992 and I then worked as auxiliary bishop alongside him. He was a very kind man and his bishop’s motto was ‘Le Caoineas Críost’ or ‘The Gentleness and Kindness of Christ’.”

A native of Charlestown in Co Mayo, Dr Cassidy was ordained a priest for the Achonry diocese in 1959. He was loaned to the Clonfert Diocese soon after, where he took up a teaching role at St Joseph’s College, Garbally in Ballinasloe and later became president of the school.

It was there that Dr Cassidy’s real talents came to the fore, according to Archbishop Neary.

“He spent nearly 20 years as a teacher in Garbally College in Ballinasloe and many of his students from that time attribute their love of English literature and interest in drama to him.

“He was a masterful English teacher and succeeded in getting students to appreciate the subject and identify with it, rather than it just being an examination subject.

“He was also particularly gifted in being able to capture in phrase what would often be a difficult reality to convey. He was the master of the sound-bite, and would give the impression that it had just tripped off his tongue, when in reality he agonised and prepared over every word he used.”

Dr Cassidy’s retirement from the role of Archbishop of Tuam was accepted in 1995 and after serving as parish priest of Moore for 14 years, he retired in 2009.

“The way he carried the cross of ill-health in recent years will probably be his finest homily; it will be his most eloquent sermon,” said Archbishop Neary.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore, a former pupil and friend of Dr Cassidy, said he enriched the lives of all who came in contact with him.

“He was a man of compassion, learning and culture. He made an enormous contribution to the Church and to the wider community,” Mr Gilmore said.

Dr Cassidy’s remains will arrive at the Cathedral of Assumption in Tuam at 5pm tomorrow evening, and his funeral will be held on Saturday at noon followed by burial in the grounds of Moore Church in Co Roscommon.