The death has taken place of the retired Archbishop of Tuam, Dr Joseph Cassidy, aged 79.

A native of Charlestown, Co Mayo, as spokesman for the Catholic hierarchy in the 1980s, he featured prominently in referendum campaigns on abortion and divorce.

In 1990 he helped broker a solution to the bitter and long-running rod license dispute between lake anglers and the Government.

He was a member of the Bishops' Conference from 1979 until 1995. His first appointment was to Clonfert in 1979.

In 1987 he was appointed Archbishop of Tuam, one of the four most important dioceses in the Catholic Church here.

He retired for health reasons in 1995, but served as a priest in South Roscommon until 2009.

The Tánaiste has expressed his sadness at the death of the former Archbishop.

"Dr Cassidy was my former teacher. He was also a friend whom I will greatly miss.

"He was a man of compassion, learning and culture. He made an enormous contribution to the Church and to the wider community. He enriched the lives of all those with whom he came into contact."

Cardinal Seán Brady said Dr Cassidy was superbly gifted as a communicator and "dedicated much time and thought to honing and chiseling the words to sensitively fit the theme and the occasion".

He said he was a man of supreme pastoral care with a lovely sense of humour and "combined love for the Church with a wonderful understanding of the people with whom he was privileged to work".

The remains of Archbishop Cassidy will repose at the Church of the Assumption in Tuam between 5pm and 10pm (exluding the duration of mass at 7.30pm) on Friday.

Archbishop of Tuam Dr Michael Neary will be the chief celebrant at the funeral mass on Saturday beginning at 12pm.

Dr Cassidy will be buried in the grounds of Moore Church.