Born: 16 October 1916, Dublin
Entered: 07 September 1934, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 31 July 1949, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 15 August 1953, Sacred Heart College SJ (Crescent), Limerick
Died: 04 March 2008, Cherryfield Lodge, Dublin
Part of the Milltown Park, Dublin at the time of death
Dermot Peakin - by 1985 Diarmuid Ó Peicín;
by 1967 at Handsworth, Birmingham (ANG) working
by 1968 at Erdington, Birmingham (ANG) working
by 1970 at Walthamstow, London (ANG) working
by 1971 at London, England (ANG) working
by 1975 at Dockhead, London (ANG) working
by 1976 at Redcross, London (ANG) working
by 1977 at London W2 (ANG) working
by 1978 at Rotherhithe London (ANG) working
◆ Jesuits in Ireland :
Tributes for Diarmuid Ó Peicín SJ
Tributes have been paid to Fr Diarmuid Ó Peicín whose funeral took place on Friday 7 March 2008 and was featured on TG4 Nuacht. (www.tg4.tv > Cúrsaí Reatha – Cartlann >
Nuacht TG4 – 7/3/08) His work to save Tory island was the subject of the 2007 documentary Fear na n- Óilean and the film-maker Anne Marie Nic Ruaidhri told the Donegal Democrat that he was a leader who “inspired people, especially the Tory people, and he was passionate about island communities and helping them.” That passion led him to Europe where he found an unlikely ally in Dr. Ian Paisley. Minister for State, Pat “the Cope” Gallagher also paid tribute to Fr Ó Peicín saying it was ironic that he passed away on the same day that his friend Ian Paisley announced his retirement. March 2008
Please pray for the repose of Father Diarmuid Ó Peicín S.J. who died on 4 March 2008 at Cherryfield Lodge, Dublin, at 91 years of age. Born in Dublin on 16 October 1916, Diarmuid received his early education at the Christian Brothers (O’Connell Schools) and at Mungret College . He took his first vows in the Society of Jesus at Emo on 8 September 1936. During his Jesuit formation he studied Arts at UCD and philosophy at Saint Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, Offaly. He taught in Clongowes Wood College and Mungret College, Limerick before studying theology at Milltown Park, Dublin.
Ordained priest at Milltown Park at 31 July 1949, Diarmuid went on to teach at
Crescent College, Limerick and took final vows as a Jesuit on 15 August 1953 after which he taught in Mungret College, Limerick and at Rathmines Technical College. He spent some time engaged in pastoral work with Irish immigrants in Birmingham and London and, after a year in South Africa, returned to Ireland in 1980. Having spent three years as curate on Tory Island, he continued to work for the Comhdháil Oileáin na hÉireann – the Irish Islands’ Federation.
His experience on Tory was documented in his books, Tory Island: the island that wouldn’t go to sleep (Trafford, 1412028965) and Islanders: The True Story of One Man’s Fight to Save a Way of Life, (with Liam Nolan, Harper Collins 1997 978-0006279983) and in Lugh Films’ 52-minute documentary, Fear na nOileàn.
◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 48th Year No 1 1973
Father Dermot Peakin continues to do energetic work in London. He has organised a weekly instruction class which has six members ready for reception into the Church and he has introduced the Legion of Mary to the parish.
Recently he published a 24-page brochure for the Geraldine G.A.A. Hurling and Football Club, of which he has been Chairman since 1970. The club is flourishing and has won trophies for both hurling and football. Father Dermot has been successful, both in Birmingham and London, in bringing the sons of Irish exiles into the G.A.A., a far-sighted policy in view of the recent sharp decline in emigration from Ireland. In the brochure there is some interesting and hitherto unpublished material about Michael Collins' association wth the Geraldines. He was club secretary from 1910 till his return to Ireland in 1916.
Fr Bob Stevenson and Fr Noel Holden had a day out with Fr Dermot after their successful Mission in Kentish Town last November and enjoyed themselves thoroughly.
Interfuse No 136 : Summer 2008
Fr Diarmuid Ó Péicín (1916-2008)
16th October 1916: Born in Dublin
Early education at Christian Brothers (O'Connell Schools), Dublin, and Mungret College
7th September 1934: Entered the Society at Emo
8th September 1936: First Vows at Emo
1936 - 1939: Rathfarnham - Studied Arts at UCD
1939 - 1942: Tullabeg - Studied Philosophy
1942 - 1943: Clongowes Wood College - Teacher
1943 - 1946: Mungret College, Limerick - Teacher
1946 - 1950: Milltown Park - Studied Theology
31 July 1949: Ordained at Milltown Park
1950 - 1951: Tertianship at Rathfarnham
1951 - 1957: Crescent College, Limerick
15th August 1953: Final Vows
1957 - 1960: Mungret College, Limerick - Teacher
1960 - 1962: Rathfarnham - Teacher / Chaplain at Rathmines Technical College
1962 - 1966: Tullabeg - Giving the Spiritual Exercises
1966 - 1969: Birmingham - Pastoral work
1969 - 1978: London - Pastoral work (Irish immigrants)
1978 - 1979: Rathfarnham - Retreat work
1979 - 1980: Port Elizabeth, South Africa - Pastoral work
1980 - 1981: Rathfarnham - work on Tory Island
1981 - 2008: Milltown Park -
1981 - 1984: Curate, Tory Island
1984 - 1992: Research on Islands of Ireland
1992 - 1997: Assisted “Islands Trust” of Ireland
1997 - 2007: Research and Writing
2007 - 2008: Cherryfield Lodge - Praying for Church and Society
4th March 2008: Died at Cherryfield Lodge, Dublin.
James Kelly writes:
After I volunteered to write this, it occurred to me that I knew very little about Diarmuid. So the most I can do is give a portrait, gained from living some years with him in Milltown and from hearsay.
On my first acquaintance with him, we both were new to Milltown Park. I found him pleasant at table. But soon I noticed that some would not sit with him at all. One said that he found his sympathy with the IRA annoying - something I never noticed at all. A very prominent Irish Jesuit living abroad, who was often here in the summer, failed to notice this either. He, with some others, frequently sat with Diarmuid, and found him cheery and grateful, with humble good humour. Later it was said that he caused this isolation himself.
He could be quite hilarious at table, if provoked the right way. The late Fr Joe Conran, who was in Milltown for some months before he died, brought the best out of him. They recalled old days in Birmingham and London. They were both in the former city when the infamous bomb went off. They had numerous tales about London, the GAA there and the move to new grounds in Ruislip.
A Columban priest, who attended Diarmuid's funeral, knew him very well there. Diarmuid stayed for a time in St Patrick's, Central London, with a Fr. Pat Davis. It seems to have been a very active time in his life, when his deep fighting spirit at times came to the fore. He was a good confessor and must have helped many people. The Columban priest showed appreciation for his work there. I'm sure Diarmuid had rich experiences in that big city, but he only talked about them when some one was able to draw him out - and most of us were unable to do so.
He had a vision of helping those on Tory Island to remain there, even when heavy political forces, with less understanding, were working against him and his supporters. He had an office in Milltown, from where he corresponded widely, and, for a time, was aided by two Fás workers - one a very pleasant Italian girl. He was full of enthusiasm for his work, frequently vaguely saying, 'There's a lot going on'. He had a number of influential outsiders helping him. While he clashed with some people, he was always able to win good people to his cause, like Liam Nolan with whom he produced a book. Two books on Tory Island saw the light of day, and he was greatly involved in them. The film about him and his work crowned a long and struggling endeavour, and won great praise from some, at least, of the Tory people. The progress made on the island is remarkable, and his contribution to this seems to have been large. Of course, he flourished on the challenge it offered him. Defeat never conquered his spirit.
Clear communication was not his strong point. There was, perhaps, a deep element of mistrust in him which left him closed. It was said that this was due to an incident, while he was “in the colleges” in Mungret. He and another scholastic (Johnny Keogh is the name given to me) cycled to Thurles to a Munster final. Unfortunately one bike broke down, and they arrived home very late - a fact that was discovered. They were severely reprimanded for this and Diarmuid's stay in Mungret was extended. It was a case of initiative and openness running into solid inflexibility. Looking back now, it is remarkable how inhuman regulations became so encrusted, and that it took a vast movement in the Church to restore common sense. The longing for a fundamental change and a more reasonable approach existed long before the reality came.
Towards the End
Diarmuid did not get away lightly and had to endure a lengthy illness. Hospital diseases like MSE added to his woes. He must have been lonely too. He said towards the end that he greatly missed people like Joe Conran.
The depths of his aspirations and dreams were known only by God. But he remained loyal to the end, and the God of all might surely guided him safely home.
From the Irish Times, Saturday 8 March 2008 (reprinted with permission)
Turbulent priest who saved Tory Island
One of the many lasting images of Fr. Diarmuid Ó Péicín is when last year, old and frail, he attended the Dublin premiere of the film about his island exploits, called Fear na nOileán. The award-winning film, subsequently broadcast on TG4, was made by Frenchman Loic Jourdain and his partner Anne Marie Nic Ruaidhri, a native of Tory Island, Co Donegal, where the priest served controversially, but ultimately successfully, in the early 1980s. When Anne Marie visited him in Dublin five years ago to moot the idea for the film his response was, “You took your time”. Fr, Ó Péicín knew his standing in the world.
As the film, depicting how he spearheaded the campaign to save the island, rolled, the couple's then three-year-old daughter Kilda was happily running up and down the aisle. This was a double satisfaction and validation for the priest because not only was he being honoured in his lifetime but through Kilda he could see that he had preserved Tory for another generation, at a time when it could so easily have been stripped of its people. It was fitting therefore that at his funeral yesterday Anne Marie was invited to do one of the requiem Mass readings in the Jesuit church in Milltown while Kilda, now 4, carried the gifts.
Fr Ó Peicín was a Dubliner who, close to retirement and after years teaching and working with Irish immigrants in England, travelled to Tory Island in 1980 to learn Irish. While there he was angered by the lack of facilities, the official indifference to the place, and the fact that such were the conditions that 10 families felt they had no option but to accept houses in Falcarragh on the mainland. He suspected this was part of an insidious plan to gradually destroy Tory as a living island, to transform it into another Blaskets,
This suspicion was reinforced when journalist Gerry Moriarty unearthed an official paper suggesting that the 150 people on Tory should be relocated and the island used as variously a holiday home for American tourists, a high-security prison, a quarantine centre or a firing range for the Army. This astonishing official mindset triggered a ruthless, single-minded Old Testament fury and zeal in Fr Ó Peicín, who had a simple biblical take on his mission: if you weren't for Tory you were against Tory.
Those who were so negatively inclined - and there were many - were regularly subjected to the venom of his tongue. He campaigned throughout Ireland, Britain, Europe and the US. He also campaigned for all of Ireland's coastal islands. He died on Tuesday, March 4, aged 91, the day that Ian Paisley announced he was resigning as First Minister and DUP leader.
What was curious here, perhaps even unique, is that Dr Paisley - no lover of the Jesuits - was a firm supporter of the priest, and lobbied on his behalf in Brussels. "He has lit a fire that has never gone out in Europe, and Europe must look after its island people," said Dr Paisley on Fear na nOileán.
Charles Haughey, in opposition and as Taoiseach, was supportive, although at the time in the recession-hit Ireland of the 1980s the money was not available to meet all of the priest's ambitions. Still, when in 1984 the then Bishop of Raphoe, Dr Seamus Hegarty, instructed that Fr Ó Peicín leave the island because, the bishop argued, his presence was proving so divisive, Mr Haughey spoke in favour of the priest.
“While I don't want to interfere in diocesan affairs”, Mr Haughey opined to the interviewing journalist, before doing just that by contending that removing the valiant priest from Tory was bad for the island and its people. At the end of the interview Haughey looked up from under his hooded eyes and, off the record, growled, “You know, he's mad”.
And so he was, but in the positive John Healy sense, where, in his book “Death of an Irish Town”, he urged people to “get mad” in order to halt the depopulation of rural Ireland. In Fr Ó Péicín's case it was to save Tory. Which, against the odds, and with the support of the islanders, he did.