Limerick and Kerry join forces to preserve the memory of patriot pastors

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The Fr Casey memorial which dominates the town square in Abbeyfeale.

THE towering figure of Fr William Casey, the crusading parish priest who fought fearlessly on behalf of tenants during the Land War, has dominated the town square in Abbeyfeale for more than 112 years.

The imposing monument was erected in 1910, three years after Fr Casey’s death, with funds raised by a committee chaired by JD Harnett, who also wrote an informative and now very rare booklet about the famous priest.

Across the Kerry county boundary, in the town of Castleisland, Fr Casey is still remembered as the priest who worked with their own pastor, Fr Arthur Murphy, in support of the national cause.

Castleisland District Heritage chairman Johnnie Roche recalls how, in his youth, older people still revered the names of Fr Casey and Fr Murphy.

“When Fr Murphy was subsequently appointed to the parish of Brosna, both men resumed their co-operation and worked together in the interests of their areas and people,” he recalled.

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Castleisland District Heritage recently acquired a copy of JD Harnett’s publication and decided to reproduce it for a new generation.

Abbeyfeale Community Council chairman Maurice O’Connell happened to be visiting the Castleisland District Heritage office on an unrelated matter when he learned about the project and this resulted in a Kerry/Limerick collaboration on a historic theme.

Both groups hope the publication will help the present generation learn how the underprivileged and downtrodden people in the West Limerick and North Kerry areas were supported during those hard times.

The publication also highlights the work of JD Harnett of Abbeyfeale, who was well-known and much-admired for his reporting on and support of the national cause during this turbulent period in Irish history

His granddaughter, Brigid Harnett, has conveyed her family’s thanks to both the Abbeyfeale Community Council and the Castleisland District Heritage group for enabling the present generation to learn from the struggles of the past.

The booklet, which retains its original title, ‘A Sketch of the Life of Rev Wm Casey, PP, of Abbeyfeale’, is being reproduced in its original A5 format with additional front cover imaging, as well as an  illustration by Noel Nash of Fr Casey’s rescue of a number of young men from a flooded River Feale.

The book will be launched by Former Minister for Justice and MEP Gerry Collins in the Glórach Theatre, Abbeyfeale, on Friday, November 11 at 7.30pm. Doors open at 7pm and all are welcome.