Kilkenny priest eager to get back among his flock

Simple things helped Fr Liam Cashin during the lockdown – household chores and deliveries of parishioners’ fresh brown bread

For months 71-year-old Fr Liam Cashin has said Mass in a small room in the parish house in Hugginstown in Co Kilkenny. From today he is eager to get back amongst his flock, officially.

The cocooning months were hard. “For those first three or four weeks you’d only be allowed out around the garden. It was crap,” he laughs. Once he was able, he moved out.

Once he held a Mass in the parish church for a parishioner facing a major operation in Dublin. “He asked me to pray for him. The man is now recovering well back in the parish. I had no inhibitions about it. I had masks in the car, rubber gloves, visors, sanitiser; I knew if I got a call anytime, if someone needed a help, I was going, and I would deal with the consequences afterwards.

“I wasn’t going to say, ‘I’m cocooning and I can’t go’. It was a great comfort to [the man’s friends] and I know it was great comfort to him too,” he told The Irish Times.


Hugginstown has been spared a Covid-19 loss: “We had a death about a week or two before the virus struck, and the next death we had was only last weekend.”

However, he lost a close cousin, Fr Jim Cashin, two weeks ago. " I was with him in Kieran's, we grew up together. He was in Thomastown and I was in Inistioge – there was just a valley between us."

The Covid restrictions grated, but they served the country well. “We might not have agreed with the decisions but [the Government] were doing them for the right reasons.”

Simple things helped – household chores, the “very green views of Barnadown” out the back of his house, along with regular deliveries of parishioners’ freshly-baked brown bread.

People even called out to find out how he was doing for money.: “They were offering to pay money directly into the parish account. Even thinking in that line was amazing, I thought.”

Others reached out too, including a message from a Jehovah’s Witness man. “What’s in it is private. He wished me well in it. It was a nice thing to get, of course it was.”

Another religious group dropped in a lockdown mental health survey. “How we coped, that sort of thing. There was a question at the end of it: ‘Was there anything positive that you could say about it’. I thought for a while before I answered it. Then I put down that it was the first time in my life that I wasn’t dictated to by a diary or a watch.”

Different rules

If the virus returns he believes different rules will have to be applied to country and smaller churches. “We were treated the same as city churches. We’d have no problem social distancing. The most that’d be at our daily Masses would be seven or eight. We could have had that all along. If I was allowed to bring six people into the house here for a gathering, there’s no reason why I couldn’t have had six people in the church.”

If the virus does come back in force Hugginstown could go back to using the parish’s now unroofed late 17th century church. “It is normally used for graveyard Masses every July, but it may see other uses. I could say Mass on the steps, and people could even listen from inside the grounds or from their cars.

“I see no problem in doing that. We have a loudspeaker. On a nice Sunday morning if the sun is shining, there’d be nothing better.”