Past & Present Chaplain(s)

Fr. Gerard Tyrrell

Fr. Gerard Tyrrell

Year: 2007 to present

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Fr. Gerard Tyrrell is a priest of the Dublin Diocese and was ordained in 1987.

He is a qualified teacher and taught in St. Thomas College V.E.C while Chaplain to St. Gerard’s School in Bray for four years. He spent nine years as a University Chaplain and Student Advisor in UCD and completed two units of Clinical Pastoral Education in Tralee General Hospital. He holds an MA in Pastoral Leadership from All Hallows College/DCU.

He held until recently the position of Vicar Forane for the Fingal South West Deanery. His last appointment before becoming director of the National Chaplaincy Team was as curate in Ballygall Parish on the North side of Dublin.

Fr. Joe Jones

Fr. Joe Jones

Year: 1997 - 2007

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Fr. Jones began to learn sign language about 20 years ago, long before he became involved with Deaf people. Back then, he worked in the parish of Larkhill, Whitehall and learned sign language while being involved with a club for people with disabilities in the parish. Before being appointed to our Community, he often visited our centre and took part in Retreats and Conferences etc. He was appointed on the 1st of September 1997 to the National Chaplaincy. In September 2007 Fr. Joe left Deaf Ministry for Campus Ministry when he was nominated by Archbishop Martin and accepted by the Governing Body as Chaplain at Dublin City University.

Fr. Thomas Woods

Fr. Thomas Woods

Year: 1986 - 2005

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Fr. Tom Woods was the assistant Chaplain. He is another good signer and easy to follow. He has contributed many interesting articles to the Contact magazine. He worked with Fr. Cleary and Fr. Jones. Fr. Tom was highly regarded my many Deaf who remain very fond of him. He spends as much time listening to the Deaf when he has spare time. His favourite hobbies are photography and bird-watching. He retired on 2nd July 2005 and got a wonderful send-off from all the Deaf members. We wish him every blessing on his retirement.

Fr Stephen Monaghan

Fr Stephen Monaghan

Year: 1994 - 1997

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Fr. Monaghan joined the National Chaplaincy as an assistant Chaplain shortly after his ordination in 1990. He is nephew of Fr. Fergus Kelly C.M. who had ministered for Deaf people in Armagh Diocese and Glasgow and who was well known for his fluency in BSL. Fr. Stephen became fluent in our sign language after a short time with us. He
succeeded Fr. O'Farrell in 1994. He has mixed with the Deaf very well and was sorely missed when he was transferred to St. Peter's, Phibsboro as Parish Priest to the Travellers. Their gain is our loss. Fr Stephen still keeps in touch with the Deaf and never lost his sign language. We love his visit whenever he comes to the Centre.

Fr. Diarmuid O'Farrell

Fr. Diarmuid O'Farrell

Year: 1989 - 1994

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Fr. O'Farrell was no stranger to Deaf people when appointed to the Chaplaincy. He was chaplain to Cork Deaf people before moving to Glasgow to minister to Scottish Deaf people. He erected the St. Vincent's Deaf Centre there, which is a model for other centres. After more than 25 years, he returned to Dublin without the Irish sign language. He had to 'unlearn' the BSL which is a foreign language in this country, and re-learn our signs, a task he found quite formidable! However, this didn't hinder him in his work. He was fortunate to have an efficient back-up team under him and the assistance of the DDA Council. He did not have an easy time completing the load of work in connection with the move of the centre to Drumcondra. The appreciation of the members was shown by a generous send-off. However, they are happy that he is still around and visits the Centre on some occasions.

Fr Gerald Doyle

Fr Gerald Doyle

Year: 1972 - 1989

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His task was not so easy when he took over the reins, as the Centre in Rathmines became rather too small for our needs and the search for bigger premises was started. He started searching for a suitable location for our new centre. In the meantime he got a helper in Fr. Tom Woods, thus enabling him to carry out the usual duties efficiently.

For some years Fr. Doyle was involved in sign language classes for potential helpers until the club members stepped in to take on the responsibility. His last task was making preparations - in the face of formidable difficulties - for the move of the club to Drumcondra so that his successor was able to put finishing touches to all the arrangements with the CID and DDA Council. Like the previous Chaplains, his departure was sadly felt by the members. While working in England he visited our Centre regularly every year on his holidays to Dublin until his sudden death in Dublin on 3rd June 2002.

Fr. John Cleary

Fr. John Cleary

Year: 1971 - 1982 and 1998 - 2000

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Fr. Cleary was one of the most zealous Chaplains. His first task was to console the members still recovering from the shock of Fr. Sweeney's death, which happened under tragic circumstances. He organised weekend spiritual meetings and other programmes for the members. During his term he had the assistance of Fr. Gerald Doyle C.M. in coping with the widening pastoral-area as the Chaplaincy became the "National Chaplaincy for Deaf People" in 1977.

Reflecting the greater prosperity everywhere and the ever-increasing number of members, the Rathmines centre quickly became too small for our needs, so it was necessary to raise funds for this purpose. So Fr. Cleary helped establish the Hearing Friends Group and its Deaf extension to raise funds as quickly as possible with the help of Sr. Bernadette Fennessy D.C.

In 1982 Fr. Cleary was transferred to other duties in the Order. He was a parish priest of Sunday's Well, Cork. His sterling work for the Club is well appreciated. He was a cousin of the late Fr. Michael Nolan. C.M. Fr. Cleary returned back to the Centre in 1998 and worked alongside Fr. Jones and Fr. Woods. He died suddenly on 9th March 2000 at the age of 68.

Fr. William Murphy

Fr. William Murphy

Year: 1963 - 1969

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Being a son of Scottish Deaf parents, Fr. William Murphy naturally picked up our sign language very quickly and became an elegant signer. He was, of course very much associated with the move of the Club to Rathmines and the extensive programme of repairs and refurbishment. He continued the monthly sodality meetings in St. Louis Convent, Rathmines. He initiated the celebrations of the holy sacrifice of the Mass in our Centre during the Retreats, which were later held in the chapel of the nearby St. Mary's College belonging to the Holy Ghost Fathers. He was a hard worker. Fr. Eamon Cowan joined Fr. Murphy as a part-time assistant and was a faithful attendee at the Rathmines Centre for some years until his transfer to another post in the Vincentian Order. Fr. Cowan has celebrated Mass on occasion in the Drumcondra Centre. Presently he is on the staff at St. Patrick's College in Drumcondra.

Fr. William Murphy continued the normal work for Deaf people around the country. He appeared on the television religious programme "Nightlight", in which he used our sign language (the first time on television - the Church of Ireland Chaplain, Rev. David Barr some time before was the first person to use sign language on RTE, but it was British) at the same time he was speaking. In those times, the use of our signs on television was not approved in some circles for mistaken reasons. Fr. Murphy also introduced pre-marriage courses for Deaf people. In 1969, he was transferred to Sheffield, much to the dismay among members. Happily, he returned to Dublin as a medical social worker and became involved with the Deaf on a part-time basis as an interpreter and provided other services for Deaf people. His untimely death took from us a very good friend who understood us too well. He died on 27th September 1996.

Fr. Desmond O'Connell

Fr. Desmond O'Connell

Year: 1952 - 1963

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He began his service with Deaf people when he took over responsibility for St. John's Club for Ladies in Parnell Square from Fr. Maloney, a diocesan priest. On the departure of Fr. Mc Atarsney for London, Fr. O'Connell was appointed Chaplain to St. Philomena's Club for men, so he had his hands full looking after the two clubs. He was one of the hardest working Chaplains and continued his predecessors' work with zeal. He wrote to Archbishop Mc Quaid for permission to merge the two clubs. The Archbishop responded favourably, but rightly advised against closing the women's club until a bigger premise for the combined clubs was found. It should be made clear that ladies had free access to the men's club most of the time ever since the lifting of the ban in 1947 as mentioned in the article on Fr. Sweeney. The men too had equal access to the ladies club.

Fr. O'Connell started flag-day collections which were intended for the purchase of a new centre. The rising costs of the chaplaincy and club forced use of the "Flag-fund" to meet liabilities. His work was recognised as excellent and for this he was given a handsome send-off by the C lub when he went to London to replace Fr. Mc Atarsney. He did much spiritual and social work with Deaf people there before being moved to other duties in Scotland. He came back to Dublin to minister to the Deaf people in St. Joseph's, Brewery Rd, Stillorgan and in the Beechpark School until it closed down. He died after a long illness in 27th February 2005.

Fr. Felix Mc Atarsney

Fr. Felix Mc Atarsney

Year: 1949 – 1952

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He served one of the briefest Chaplaincy terms in the Club's history. He was best remembered for arranging entry of the football team in a competitive league for the first time. He also contributed some very fine articles to St. Joseph's Annual. He carried on with Fr. Sweeney's work for Deaf people around the country. Also, he was in great demand as a missionary around the country, so his absences from the center, were frequent. Towards the end of his term he had the club consecrated to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. He was transferred to London as Chaplain to Catholic Deaf people and lived there for many years. He then worked for many years in Nigeria until his retirement. He passed away in 1994 at the age of 71.

Fr. Dermot Sweeney

Fr. Dermot Sweeney

Year: 1944 - 1948 and 1969 - 1971

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The newly ordained Fr. Sweeney was appointed as Fr. Nolan's successor in August 1943, but his role was confined to the Cabra schools. He had already knowledge of sign language as he was a neighbour of a deaf man, John Mc Grotty, in Dungloe, Co. Donegal, of whom Fr. Sweeney spoke highly. Although his terms as Chaplain was rather brief, Fr. Dermot's influence had an impact on the Club. He persuaded the CID members to provide the Dublin Deaf people with a club at Gardiner's Place in 1945. He helped the members to make a clean break with the old system of club management.

He and his committee perked up the décor and environment of the club premises, a radical move then! Since the time of Fr. Carey, the Legion of Mary hearing members had a large share in running certain club functions. Eventually this led to inevitable friction, and it persuaded Fr. Sweeney to accept the ability of Deaf people to manage their own affairs. This left the Legion of Mary members with a reduced role, but there was a happy bond between them and the club members who recognized the value of the Legion in other areas of the community. In the meantime, at the urging of the Club members Fr. Dermot eventually got the CID to lift the ban on admission of women early in 1947. He also donated a small cup for the annual football match between Dublin and Belfast, usually played in St. Joseph's grounds. Because of the difficult circumstances prevailing at the time, this cup was lost. At the end of 1948 Fr. Sweeney was moved to Glasgow to establish a Chaplaincy service and is remembered there for his devoted service.

On his return to the Dublin Chaplaincy in 1969, he found the Centre in Rathmines a hive of activities, and ably administrated by the members. He said; "the Deaf world is very different from what I knew before going to Scotland." He was referring to the affluence among Deaf people and to increased self-reliance among the Deaf which reflected the state of society in general at the time.

So Fr. Sweeney had more time for spiritual work in his beloved Deaf community. However, he found the work of the Chaplaincy had grown bigger since

his departure for Scotland so he was provided with a voluntary assistant, Fr. John Cleary. It turned out to be providential as Fr. Cleary was able to take over at the time of Fr. Sweeney's unexpected and tragic death which left all members in a state of shock. As a mark of affection for his memory, the annual football competition between Dublin and Belfast for the "Fr. Sweeney Memorial Cup" was established.

Fr. Michael Nolan

Fr. Michael Nolan

Year: 1923 - 1943

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Fr. Nolan succeeded Fr. Cussen in 1923. These were very difficult times because the raging Civil War which made travel in the provinces risky. However, he was fortunate to have the assistance of Brothers and Sisters of the Cabra schools who had an excellent system of correspondence with their former pupils. He conducted with the help of a Brother from St. Joseph's, the monthly sodality meetings for men in the club. Fr. Sean Casey, a diocesan priest, was the active Chaplain to the adult Dublin Deaf men when Fr. Nolan died after a lengthy period of poor health in July 1943. It was in the same year that the North Great George's Street Club premises closed down. Those, who knew Fr. Nolan, described him as a very humble and holy priest. He was an avid reader of Latin. In his obituary in the "St. Joseph's" Annual for 1943 he was described as tending to view matters in the eternal light.

Fr. Sean Carey

Fr. Sean Carey

Year: 1943 - 1944

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Chaplain to St. Joseph's Home for retired ladies in Portland Row, he became involved with Deaf men through his associations with the Legion of Mary. His very elegant use of sign language won high admiration and popularity among the club members. He started the monthly sodality meetings for men in the Portland Row Convent chapel in 1943. The meetings continued there until the move of the Club to Rathmines in 1964. A considerable number of members attended regularly in spite of the distance of the convent from the City Centre.

When Fr. Carey was appointed curate in the Fairview Parish, his onerous duties there left him with less time to attend to the club. Unknown to anyone then, a member, Joseph Hickey, decided to write to Archbishop John Charles Mc Quaid complaining about the situation and requested that Chaplains be appointed from the Vincentian Fathers only as before. The Archbishop obviously understood the situation and Fr. Dermot Sweeney was quickly appointed Chaplain to adult Deaf men.

Since then the Chaplains have been appointed from the Vincentian Fathers until now.