A popular priest on the Sheep's Head peninsula in Co Cork, who posted an emotional farewell video online to his parishioners during the summer as he retired due to terminal cancer, has passed away.
Fr Ger Galvin, who was aged in his 60s, had developed incurable cancer in his bones and lungs. He posted a poignant farewell on the Muintir Bháire Community Council Facebook page in August, in which he thanked parishioners for their support.
"This is Fr Ger, as you know, making a recording which I would rather not do but I really have no choice. This is a very difficult time in my life, my shoulder is very sore, my lungs are very sore, sleeping is very difficult … I wish it wasn't like this.
"I wish I could shake your hands and say 'Goodbye' but I can't. I don't have the energy anymore," he said in the online message.
The Timoleague native, who had served as parish priest in Muintir Bháire for over 12 years, struggled to hold back tears as he paid tribute to locals who had touched his life.
"Over the years I have been in Muintir Bháire, many things have happened that I have enjoyed … I had the joy of First Communions, Confirmations, weddings, baptism. I had the sorrow of funerals and the heartbreak of people's deaths and trying to do my best for people in sorrow, people in need.
"I have great laughs, we had coffee mornings together we as a community learned an awful lot together. I learned about the children who were in the school, who at the time could be very funny and were great craic and their endless ability to surprise me is a wonderful thing," he said.
In his work he served the three main centres of population in Durrus, Ahakista and Kilcrohane.
In his message his said that he had been supported in ways he would never forget.
"Your prayers have given me the gift of healing and have helped me. Cancer is not my life. Cancer will not be my life. The life I have been given is the life I have been given by the Lord. Fear, anger, resentment, self pity and much more are gone. They are replaced with hope and love."
Fr Galvin was an advocate of victims of clerical sex abuse. In 2005 he declined to read out a letter at Mass from the then Bishop of Cork and Ross, Dr John Buckley in the wake of the Ferns Report into Clerical Sex Abuse in the Catholic Church. He felt the letter was incomplete and did not go far enough.
In 2017 during a sermon at the Sacred Heart in Durrus, he also criticised the Church for its failure to safeguard the innocent, following the Tuam babies revelations.
Fr Galvin was ordained at the Church of the Nativity of Our Lady in Timoleague in June of 1979. He had attended St Patrick's College in Maynooth and the Seminario de San Jeronimo, Burgos in Spain. He also served in other Cork parishes such as Skibbereen, Passage West, Monkstown and Clonakilty.
Fr Galvin was a big fan of using online media as a means of keeping in touch with his parishioners. He told Cork's Red FM that his farewell video was "from the heart".
"I wanted to say goodbye to people who have been extraordinarily good to me over the years," he said.
"It was very difficult and very hard to keep back the tears at times."