Cashel Town Council accorded a Civic Reception to Archbishop Clifford to mark the Silver Jubilee of his episcopal ordination.
Cllr. Maribel Wood said it was an honour for her as Deputy Mayor to accord the reception and she extended a special welcome to members of the Clifford family.
A Civic Reception,, she said “is the highest honour this council can bestow on an individual and we salute you on this happy occasion while also acknowledging the significant contribution made to the life of Cashel by the church and archbishops over many centuries. Both have contributed to the religious, social and economic development of this town and that legacy is still a life-blood of our economy today.
The political and ecclesiastical significance of “Cashel of the Kings” or” Royal and Saintly Cashel”, has been well documented. The imprint and memory of a sometimes turbulent but often glorious past is ever present through our ruined abbeys, magnificent buildings on the Rock, functioning churches, street names and monuments. Indeed even the links on our Mayoral Chain signify pre christian Cashel and the Christian period when it was a centre of learning.
“On a more parochial note, when returning to Spain some years ago by land and sea, Tom and I visited the Irish College in Salamanca and were amazed to discover how many Tipperary men studied there for the priesthood in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries before returning home to serve throughout the diocese of Cashel and Emly. A Cashel priest named Stapleton was credited with the foundation of the Irish College in Seville in 1610 and a similar College in Madrid, while Edward Sall studied in Santiago and was ordained in Salamanca in 1676. If anyone is surprised that Cashel has a Spanish born deputy mayor well Walter O’Ryan was Governor of Seville in the 18th century. He looked after the education of his cousin, John O’Ryan in Salamanca. John, who became parish priest of Cashel in 1830 and it was he who arranged with the Presentation Sisters in Thurles to set up a convent in the town, coincidentially where the civic offices now stand.
“While sad historical circumstances led to the departure of the Catholic Archbishops from Cashel in the middle of the 17th century, with the subsequent foundation of a headquarters in Thurles a century later, they carried the distinguished title of Cashel with them and tonight on behalf of its citizens, I welcome you home.
Cllrs. Joe Moloney, Eddie Bennett, PJ Quinlan and Eoghan Lawrence concurred with the sentiments of the deputy mayor and wished the Archbishop many more years of good health and happiness in his ministry.
Fr. Christy O’Dwyer, PP said that he was delighted to be associated with the very happy occasion. He thanked the council for the honour bestowed on the Archbishop on what was a significant milestone in his life and it was wonderful that he was being acknowledged in no more appropriate place than Cashel which gave its name to the archdiocese, and reiterating what the deputy mayor had said that the archbishops had given Cashel a prominence that spread far and wide.
Continuing with an impromptu history lesson, Fr. Christy, pointed to the conundrum that would have arisen had the events of that week taken place at the close of the ninth century. At that time he said the bishop was king and the king bishop, resulting in the king bishops, a number of whom were rather colourful characters and all of this coming in a week when the Queen of England was due to visit St Patrick’s Rock.
Deputy Tom Hayes said that he was honoured to be present and he wished to commend the archbishop for his leadership over the past twenty five years years and also for the leadership of the priest that he sent out to the parishes in the archdiocese.
West GAA board chairman Roger Kennedy thanked the council for the honour they had bestowed on the association’s patron and West board president. He wished to congratulate the Archbishop on attaining the landmark in his episcopal career and to thank him for his leadership since becoming archbishop.
John Finnucane, representing Bóthar, (in his own words the crowd who fly cows around the world) congratulated Dr. Clifford and thanked him for his involvement with the charity since its inception in 1991.
Town manager Sean Keating, on his own behalf and on behalf on the staff congratulated the Dr. Clifford on reaching the milestone. He said that attendance on the occasion of a civic reception was always a great pleasure and particularly tonight when the Archbishop was being honoured.
In his reply Dr. Clifford thanked the deputy mayor and the councillors for their kindness in according the civic reception. It came as a surprise as did the silver jubilee celebrations in Thurles earlier in the year which was organised in clandestine fashion by priests of the archdiocese. Speaking of that celebration he told a story relating to the silver jubilee of Dr. Croke, (GAA Founder) who was set against any such celebration but consented when opposition became futile. He enjoyed the subsequent festivities to such an extent that he described them as the crowing glory of his life, he was seventy two at the time and was so invigorated that he continued in office for another seven years. Dr. Clifford, used this story as a way of informing all who wished him many many more years in his ministry that he is also seventy two and no matter how revitalised he may feel, nowadays regulations dictate that he has to step down at seventy five in three years time.
He concluded by again thanking the council for bestowing the distinction on him and how delighted he was to have his brother and sister and friends present in Cashel of the Kings and the Queen who was arriving on Friday. He said that he was delighted to be part of the official welcome to the head of state of (in the word of Cardinal Newman) the sister isle.. Wryly he mentioned the other Elizabeth, being instrumental in the church’s departure from the Rock , if it was not for her he might still be resident up there, but maybe she did him a favour as he didn’t think he would be able for the tough pull up there.
All present then retired to the atrium for refreshments.