Bishop Michael Duignan pays tribute to late Martin Drennan

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Galway Daily news Bishop Michael Duignan pays tribute to late Martin Drennan
New Bishop of Galway Michael Duignan. Photo: Diocese of Galway, Kilmacduagh, and Kilfenora

Bishop of Galway, Kilmacduagh & Kilfenora Michael Duignan has paid tribute to the late Martin Drennan, who passed away over the weekend.

Bishop Duignam expressed his sympathies to the family and friends of the late Martin Drennan, and the whole diocesan community who knew him.

The former Bishop of Galway died on Saturday at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin, in the presence of his family, six years after stepping down.

Born in Kilkenny in 1944, Martin Drennan was ordained as a priest in 1968, serving the parishes of St. Mary’s Cathedral, and later Ballycallan.

He spent more than two decades teaching, both in Ireland and in Rome, where he headed the Irish College for five years in the 80s.

Drennan was first appointed Bishop of Galway in 2005 following the retirement of his predecessor Bishop James McLoughlin, and served until his retirement after 11 years on the job.

Bishop Duignan said that the Kilkenny man “took the west of Ireland to his heart” as the Bishop of Galway, and made for himself a home here, with friends and found family dear to him.

He described the late Bishop Emeritus as someone the community will remember as a “gentle, prayerful, kind and wise pastor”, with a self-effacing presence.

He also recalled fondly the warm welcome the Bishop Drennan had for him personally on his recent appointment to Galway, and for the counsel he offered.

The funeral for Martin Drennan will take place on Wednesday this week at Galway Cathedral, with interment to follow.

The full statement from Bishop Michael Duignan is as follows: 

Yesterday, I received the sad news that Bishop Martin Drennan had died at St Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin surrounded by his loving family. I offer my sympathy to his family, to our diocesan community and to his many friends.

Bishop Martin was a Kilkenny man to the core who took the West of Ireland to his heart. Even though he continued to avidly support the black and amber of his birthplace, Galway became his home and the people of the west became his new family and his dear friends. Ordained a priest for the Diocese of Ossory in 1968, his first appointments were to St Mary’s Cathedral, Kilkenny and to Ballycallan parishes before returning to further studies.

Sacred Scripture was his passion. Fr. Martin was to become an internationally respected academic and taught with energy, passion and insight at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth as Professor of Old Testament. He was skilled at making the inspired words of the  ancient biblical texts relevant, powerful and life-giving to the modern world.

In May 1997, he was appointed auxiliary Bishop in Dublin and in 2005 he succeeded Bishop James McLoughin as Bishop of Galway and Kilmacduagh and Apostolic Administrator of Kilfenora. Bishop Drennan’s able intellect and innate pastoral sensitivity when combined with his gentle prayerful, self-effacing presence served the Diocese well. At the time of his retirement in 2016 on health grounds, Bishop Martin wrote:

“My eleven years here have been among the happiest and most fulfilled of my life. When I succeeded Bishop James McLoughlin in 2004 you, the priests and people of Galway, Mayo and Clare, made me welcome. Since then, your support and kindness, your prayers and your affirmation, have been a real source of strength and inspiration to me. For this I will be forever grateful. It was a privilege to be your Bishop. From deep in my heart I say thank you. My retirement takes place during this Holy Year of Mercy and I sincerely ask forgiveness from anyone among you I may have hurt in any way during my time as Bishop. I offer my loyalty and my wholehearted support to my successor and I ask you for your continued prayers. You will always be in mine.”

The people and priests of the diocese of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora will remember him fondly as a gentle, prayerful, kind and wise pastor. At a personal level, I will be ever thankful to Bishop Martin for his warm welcome to me on my recent appointment to Galway and for his wise counsel.

Throughout his life, and in particular in his later years of illness, he lived very much by the wisdom contained in the title of his last book – Turning Wounds into Wisdom – a series of reflections on the Sunday Gospels in which he endeavoured to turn the wounds of life into a wisdom for living.

Bishop Drennan’s episcopal motto was Comhoidhrí le Críost (co-heirs with Christ). Taken from the Letter to the Romans (8:17), here St Paul emphasises the sure hope of an eternal destiny that is the hallmark of a follower of Christ. I pray that God will now enfold Bishop Martin more deeply into his eternal loving embrace and grant consolation to his family and those who will miss him in this world.

A Easpag Máirtín, a chara dhil

go bhfáiltí sluaite na n-aingeal romhat

go bhfaighe tú suaimhneas síoraí

agus go mbuailimid le chéile arís,

go gcoinní Dia i mbos a láimhe thú. Amen.