Wednesday 6 March 2024

'Real life Killinaskully' as villages feud over church roof plan and beg Pat Shortt to help

The Sacred Church, Killoscully, County Tipperary 

A parish priest has played down a dispute in two neighbouring Tipperary villages where RTE comedy show Killinaskully was filmed.

Locals in Ballinahinch and Killoscully, which are in the same parish, are at odds about proposals to sell the parochial house at Ballinahinch to fix Killoscully’s church roof, it is claimed.

Some have called for award-winning comedian Pat Shortt, the star of hit TV show Killinaskully, to intervene and “cool the heat".

Parish Priest Fr James O'Donoghue (55), who represents both St Joseph’s Church in Ballinahinch and the Sacred Heart Church in Killoscully, told the Irish Mirror that he sometimes stays with his elderly mother near Cashel.

Pub made famous in RTE comedy Killinaskully up for sale for bargain price

He revealed that letters have been sent to the Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly and expressed hurt about this, describing it as “disheartening”.

He said: “We are looking at the possibility of selling the place [the parochial house in Ballinahinch] but we have made no decision about it.

“It’s up to the people to sell the house because it’s theirs to sell. I am based in Ballinahinch, but there are two sides to the parish.

“I am the parish priest for Ballinahinch and Killoscully as well. We are all one parish, but there are two churches.

“Every parish priest has to look at a property and see what he can do to enhance it and keep it going.

“We are only a small, rural parish and we do the best we can. It’s the same fund that funds both churches.

“I have been here five years and I live in the parochial house, but it is in disrepair. That’s why we’re looking at it and wondering about the future.

“We are asking the people if they want to sell it [the parochial house] or not.”

Fr O'Donoghue added: “During Covid, the church was closed, so I went home to my home place.

“Because I was an essential worker, I could come up here to the parish every week.

“But the church doors were closed. What was I going to do? Just sit here?

“I went home and set up a camera in my own home and I went on Facebook for two-and-a-half years.

“My home place is near Cashel. I was living with my mother, who has been there for the last 17 or 18 years.

“When I’m not here, I go home. My other family members live a while away from our mother, but I am only an hour away from her.

“The parochial house is an old house and, unfortunately, it’s not great and it’s not doing my health – I have asthma – any good, so I will talk to my bishop.

“He is coming here for Confirmations in two weeks’ time.”

Fr O'Donoghue also revealed that letters have been sent about him to Cashel and Emly Archbishop Kieran O'Reilly.

He said: “These letters were sent to him and he sent them back to me.

“The claims in the letters are not true. Nothing is ever perfect and you are not going to be flavour of the month with everybody.

“The decisions I make are in union with the finance committee. I’ve done everything by the book since I came.

“I'm only a new parish priest and I’m only 55 years of age. This is my first time being a parish priest and I came and did the best I can.

“Hopefully I will leave the parish in a better state than I got it. That’s always my dream and hope.

“I have no plans to leave the parish. We are brought in for six years and I have five years done.

“It’s not my decision if I stay. I will leave that up to the bishop. But it is all disheartening, I have to say.

“I’m nearly ordained 30 years and this is the first time a letter was ever sent in about me.

“If you have letters written about you, it does disconcert you. Any letter, especially when it’s false, is going to have an effect on you.

“The letters said I did not live here, but I do live here.”

Tipperary County Cllr John ‘Rocky’ McGrath told the Irish Mirror that a public meeting was held last week to discuss proposals to sell the parochial house at Ballinahinch to fix Killoscully’s church roof.

He said: “Fr James hasn’t always slept in the parochial house, but he couldn’t because it is a health hazard for him.

“That’s common sense, but there are a few people who have their own opinion.”

Independent Cllr McGrath added: “There was a meeting last week in the local St Joseph’s church that was attended by parishioners from both sides of the parish.

“Nothing concrete came out of it, but they decided to get a few guys to look at it, which makes sense, to assess the house in general.

“And to put a price on it and to see how much it would cost to do it up.

“There are families who definitely don’t want to see the parochial house sold.

“But Killoscully church definitely needs a new roof. I heard Fr James saying that.

“It will need a new roof and in modern day you are talking a lot of money.”

Pat Shortt’s office was contacted for a comment.