‘We’ve lost a saint’: Parish mourns death of priest and Limerick hurler:
By Donal O’Regan Limerick Leader
CAPPAMORE has lost one its most famous sons and Fathers with the passing of Fr Seamus Ryan.
He joins his brother and fellow Limerick hurler Fr Liam Ryan in the kingdom of heaven. Fr Seamus, who was aged in his 80s, died on Saturday.
The brothers emulated their father Willie Ryan, who won an All-Ireland medal in 1918, in pulling on the green of Limerick. Fr Seamus and Fr Liam played together in Limerick’s famous Munster final win of 1955. Fr Liam played wing forward like his father, while Fr Seamus was centre back.
The next year when Limerick took on Cork, Fr Seamus was marking one Christy Ring. In an interview with the Limerick Leader ahead of the 2018 All-Ireland final, Fr Seamus said after Cork won Christy Ring told him, “You had a great game. It was a pity you had to lose”.
“I was a nobody, I was a young fellow, I always remembered it. I appreciated it very much,” said Fr Seamus.
Both the Ryan brothers’ hurling careers were cut short due to their higher calling as in those days there was a ban on ordained priests or Christian Brothers playing GAA, while men who had returned to the seminary were not released.
Fr Seamus went to St Patrick’s College to study for the priesthood. He also completed a doctorate in theology in Maynooth. Fr Seamus with the benefit of a German Government scholarship to the University of Munster in Westphalia, Germany, studied under a young professor, Joseph Ratzinger who later became Pope Benedict. They were to meet again in later life
LIMERICK’s 1955 All-Ireland winning centre-back, Fr Seamus Ryan, knows the Pope both as a young and an elderly man.
Returning to Ireland in 1964, Fr Seamus lectured in theology in St Patrick’s College, Thurles up until 1990 when he was appointed parish priest to St Matthew’s Parish, Ballyfermot Upper in Dublin. He retired as parish priest of St Matthew’s in 2016, returning to his native Cappamore where he assisted Fr Dick Browne, parish priest.
Local councillor, Martin Ryan said this Sunday that it was very sad news for the parish of Cappamore.
“We’ve lost one of our most famous sons. Fr Seamus was a brilliant sportsman and brilliant clerygman. My father would have grown up with Fr Seamus and Fr Liam and he held them in the highest regard. The whole family is highly, highly-respected,” said Cllr Ryan, who expressed his sympathies to Fr Seamus’ sisters Mary and Enda and extended family.
“He was so knowledgeable – his knowledge knew no bounds. He was a lovely, lovely man and a lovely man to talk to. We’ve lost a saint,” said Cllr Ryan.
A counterpart of Cllr Ryan’s in Ballyfermot has also paid tribute to Fr Seamus on rip.ie Cllr Vincent Jackson passed on his deepest condolences from all the people of Ballyfermot, Cherry Orchard and Palmerstown.
“He welcomed one and all and I am so sad to hear of his passing. His legacy here in St Matthew’s is our beautifully refurbished church and the building of the parish centre. He was a very learned man who always had his feet firmly on the ground. I will always be proud and happy I honoured you with the Lord Mayor’s Award in the Mansion House in 2007,” wrote Cllr Jackson.
Fr Seamus will repose at Lynch-Kelly’s Funeral Home, Cappamore, on Monday evening, February 13 from 5pm with removal at 7.30pm to St Michael’s Church, Cappamore. Requiem Mass on Tuesday, February 14 at 12 noon with burial afterwards in the church grounds.
When the Leader asked Fr Seamus about Pope Benedict stepping down in 2013, he quoted from Shakespeare’s Macbeth, “Nothing in his life became him like the leaving it”.
Fr Seamus went to his eternal reward peacefully, quietly and with the utmost dignity – just the like man himself.
May he rest in peace.