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Presentations to departing Dunfanaghy Rector

The Rev David MacDonnell (centre) with Fr Martin Doohan and the Rev Andrew Watson. Photo: Moses Alcorn.
The Rev David MacDonnell (centre) with Fr Martin Doohan and the Rev Andrew Watson. Photo: Moses Alcorn.

Dunfanaghy Parish Hall was packed last weekend, as the parishioners of Dunfanaghy, Raymunterdoney and Tullaghobegley gathered to bid farewell to their departing Rector, the Rev David MacDonnell.

The outgoing Rector is taking up a new position as Dean of Ossory and Rector of St. Canice’s Cathedral Church in Kilkenny.

Members of the MacDonnell family travelled to Dunfanaghy for the farewell event, which took place after the regular Sunday morning service of Holy Communion in Holy Trinity Church. They were joined by Fr Martin Doohan of Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church and the Reverend Andrew Watson of Dunfanaghy Presbyterian Church.

The event was hosted by Churchwarden, Patrick Knowles, who paid tribute to the Rector’s “truly inspirational ministry” and to his leadership of the Holy Trinity Church restoration project. Mr MacDonnell had been with them for four and a half years, Mr Knowles said, and in that time had done so much for and with his parishioners. “His ability to mix with people – from the very young, right through to the older members of our congregation – is a great talent,” Mr Knowles said. “He is a brilliant people person. He has a wicked sense of humour and whatever problems or issues have arisen during his time here didn’t seem like problems or issues as Rev David has dealt with them in what seems like a stress–free kind of way – a great skill, indeed, and one of which l am personally very jealous.

“In addition to his people skills, Rev David has put his focus keenly on our parish church, where his greatest achievement must surely be the overseeing of our recent renovations, specifically the repointing of both the exterior and later the interior of the building. In addition to this, the beautiful new tiled floor you see today and the increase in available space at the front of the church is extremely innovative and brings our church forward in time, while still retaining its original charm and beauty.”

Presentations were made to the Rector on behalf of the local badminton and bowling clubs, Holy Trinity Choir, the Ladies Guild, the National School and the National School Parents’ Association, the parish workers, and the parishes of Ray, Killult and Holy Trinity.

Mr MacDonnell was also presented with a Celtic cross made by Cathal McGee on behalf of the parishioners of Holy Cross Church. Their Parish Priest, Fr Martin Doohan, spoke about the “great bond of friendship” that existed between all three clergy in the town, and also of the great community spirit in the area. He thanked Mr MacDonnell for his friendship and wished him well in Kilkenny. 

The Reverend Niall Johnston then gave a blessing before the guest of honour took the floor. Mr MacDonnell said that this group of parishes was his first post as Rector and that he had intended to stay longer in the area; but the post in Kilkenny had come up and he had decided to take it. The Rector gave thanks for all the gifts that he had received and said they were deeply appreciated. He thanked the parishioners and community of Dunfanaghy for their initial welcome and continuing support over the four and a half years he had served in the town. He thanked his fellow clergy for their friendship and support during this time, too, and concurred with Fr Doohan’s remarks about the great community spirit that existed in the area. The Rector concluded by wishing the parishioners of Dunfanaghy, Raymunterdoney and Tullaghobegley well in the future.

Drawing the event to a close, Patrick Knowles assured Mr MacDonnell that he would be very much missed when he finally left. “Our loss is Kilkenny’s gain,” he said. “Please come back and visit us when you can – you are always welcome here. For now, you leave us with our prayers and our grateful thanks for your truly inspirational ministry.”