Fr Mícheál Gabriel Lynch was born on
Fr Mícheál was the eldest of six children, and he and his siblings - Ben, Margaret, Eugene, Fintan and Paddy - were reared on a farm in the townland of Pulladoey, North Longford. As a young man, Fr Mícheál often helped his father Eugene (‘Janey’) in a wide variety of duties on the farm.
His mother, Rose was a teacher who taught for over 40 years in the local national school, the same school where his
In addition to education, his family had strong traditions in religious service. His ancestors included Fr Patrick McCabe a chaplain to convicts in Western Australia, and Sr Charles and Sr Mary McGlade who also worked as missionaries in Australia.
His uncles included Monsignor Benedict Lynch who was a priest in Brisbane and a chaplain to the Australian forces during the Second World
Closer to home, his uncle Fr Andy Lynch ministered in the diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois, and his cousin Sr Veronica Kiernan helped set up a maternity nursing home in Edgeworthstown, Longford.
Fr Mícheál attended Pulladoey N.S. up to the age of
Fr Mícheál played football on the St Mel’s college team and brought his talents home to the local parish team, Colmcille which he helped win the 1950 Longford Minor League.
From the minor
On completing his Leaving Certificate in 1952, Fr Mícheál decided to become a priest and chose to attend All Hallows College in Dublin. While there he developed two new hobbies – picture framing and playing the melodeon and button accordion.
He became accomplished on the accordion, and on St Stephen’s
His skill at fundraising did not go unnoticed by his Bishop, and two years later in
In 1970 he was appointed Parish Priest in Oakham where he was later joined by Fr Michael O’Donoghue as his assistant. In addition to his regular pastoral duties, Fr Mícheál took on the job of amalgamating two parishes - St Tomas of Canterbury at Exton and St Joseph and St Edith at Oakham - into one larger parish, and the construction of a new church that would be suitable for the growing Catholic population. He set about the task with great enthusiasm, and in April 1975 St Joseph’s Catholic Church and meeting rooms were formally opened.
The old church became a thriving social centre which helped raise funds to pay for the new construction and for other parish works. The community in Oakham also benefited socially from Fr Mícheál’s love of music as he brought many showbands and groups from Ireland to raise the necessary funds to repay the church loan.
Larry Cunningham and the Mighty Avons, Dermot Hegarty, Big Tom, Margo, Dermot Smith’s TV Tones, Philomena Begley, and The Bards were just a few of the stars who boosted his fundraising efforts and in turn became household names in the English heartland. His friendship with many of those performers continued for the rest of his life.
In 1985, Fr Mícheál was asked to move to the Parish of St Peter and Paul’s in Lincoln, and while there he continued his strong community building and fundraising efforts. He used an original design in the construction of St Peter and St Paul’s Social Centre, wrapping it
In the 1980’s, as the Chair of Governors of St Hugh’s Catholic Primary
In 1996 he moved to St Patrick’s in Beaumont Leys and for a number of years was joined there by his nephew Patrick, who was studying architecture at the nearby University. Again he threw himself into the local community, helping the local
He related well to all types of people and made lots of friends in every parish he ministered in. He was particularly close to the Traveller community in England, appearing as the officiating priest in an episode of the Channel 4 reality TV show, My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding.
He supported the travellers in other ways, also. For example, in Lincoln the Chief Constable was concerned there might be trouble at a travellers’ funeral, so Fr Mícheál spoke to the Traveller community and asked the men to take the pledge for a number of days. This they did and no trouble ensued during the funeral.
In one of his last big
While at home he was looked after by Fr O’Donoghue and a wonderful team of parishioners - Eliana Hazeldene, Frances Hellier, Dodi Rooney, Margaret Dixon, Odette Millar, Denise Garfoot and care staff - who stayed by his side until he died peacefully in Lincoln on November 30. During the last weeks of his
A Requiem Mass was said for him on December 13 in St Peter & Paul’s Church, with the Bishop of Nottingham, Patrick McKinney being the main celebrant. His body was then flown back to Ireland and driven to his family church, St Colmcilles in Aughnacliffe, Co Longford where his funeral took place on December 16. According to his