Bishop Colm to get Freedom of Longford

Bishop Colm O'Reilly (left) with his successor, Bishop Francis Duffy. Photo: Shelley Corcoran
Former Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois Colm O’Reilly is to be awarded the Freedom of Longford.

Former Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois Colm O’Reilly is to be awarded the Freedom of Longford.

Longford County Council will confer the honour on the recently retired north Longford cleric at a special ceromony next month.

Longford County Mayor Larry Bannon put forward the idea at last week’s monthly meeting of the council in a move which attracted the unanimous backing of representatives.

“This would be a fitting honour in respect of his outstanding service in the Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois over the last 30 years,” said Cllr Bannon when referring to the recently retired bishop’s tenure.

The 78-year-old called time on his long-standing pastoral career three weeks ago, making way for his successor, Bishop Francis Duffy.

Cllr Denis Glennon said the accolade was one especially befitting to a man who had dedicated over five decades of his life to the Church.

“He (Colm) has had to steer its ship through some very difficult years,” said Cllr Glennon.

“He has given great service and I think it is important that we acknowledge that.”

His Fianna Fáil counterpart, Cllr PJ Reilly underlined that tribute as he recalled the Colmcille preacher’s early days as parish priest in Granard.

“I knew him when he was curate out there and he always came across as being very humble,” said Cllr Reilly.

Cllr Barney Steele spoke of Dr O’Reilly’s time as bishop which first began back in 1983.

As well as the customary messages of support, there was plenty of banter too, illustrated when Fine Gael Cllr Frank Kilbride was first to formally endorse Cllr Bannon’s proposal.

As Cllr John Duffy wished Dr O’Reilly well in his retirement, he couldn’t help but refer to his party colleague’s own career change as a television presenter.

“We have all heard him (Cllr Kilbride) on the radio and now we have him on the TV,” said a smiling Cllr Duffy as he pointed to the Edgeworthstown hotelier’s new role with satellite channel Showcase TV.

Only three others have had the Freedom of Longford conferred upon them.

They include former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds, one-time GAA Director General Liam Mulvihill and ex-county manager Michael Killeen.

Now a fourth, Bishop Colm, is set to be added to that roll of honour on November 18.