The death has occurred of the Spiritan (Holy Ghost) missionary priest, Fr. Ciarán Shanley C.S.Sp. Aged 81, Fr. Shanley died on 19th December 2012 at the Spiritans’ nursing home in Dublin.
Ciarán was born in Clooneagh, Dromod, Co. Leitrim on March 4, 1931. He went to national school locally and went on to play football with Bornacoola, featuring on the 1948 team which won the club’s first-ever county minor championship.
Four years later, along with a young Packie McGarty and others, he played for Leitrim in the 1952 All-Ireland Junior Home Final which they lost against Meath.
Secondary education was in Blackrock College in Dublin, one of a number of Spiritan schools in Ireland. His talent as a rugby player while there was later rewarded with a trial for the Irish team.
Studies for the priesthood began at 18 in the Spiritan novitiate, then in Kilshane, Co. Tipperary, from where he would progress to Kimmage Manor to do philosophy.
In line with the then custom for Irish Spiritan seminarians to be sent to ‘prefect’ in a Spiritan school, Ciarán returned to Blackrock College for two years working as a member of school staff, teaching classes, coaching teams and helping supervise students; some other seminarians would go as far afield as Trinidad where the Irish Spiritans had a strong presence.
After his theology studies in Kimmage, Ciarán was ordained to the priesthood in 1957 by Archbishop McQuaid. His Mission Appointment was to Sierra Leone and he went on to minister for over a decade in pastoral roles in the West African country, in Gerihun, Pendembu, Kailahun and Koydu
Back in Ireland in the early 1970s, Fr. Ciarán ministered from 1972 to 1984 in newly set-up Greenhills parish in Dublin.
Along with Kimmage and two parishes in West Dublin, Greenhills continues to be one of the parishes in the Dublin Archdiocese administered by the Spiritans.
Having already spent a short time in ministry in the US, Fr. Ciarán took up an invite to join the Spiritans in southern California in the mid-1980s and went on to serve as a pastor in a number of parishes in the Diocese of Fresno and as a hospital chaplain.
On his return to Ireland in 1995 he spent four years in the parish of Poulagh in Co. Offaly before resuming a chaplaincy role, in Clonskeagh Hospital in Dublin in 1999.
Fr. Ciarán spent his final years in retirement in Kimmage where he had first studied several decades earlier.
Always with a pastor’s heart, he was known for his wise and reasoned judgment and his wonderful sense of humour. He bore his final illness with the courage that he showed all his life.
After Funeral Mass in Kimmage on Saturday 22nd December, Fr. Ciarán was buried in Dardistown cemetery in Dublin.
He is survived by his extended family and his fellow Spiritans.