Few mourners at funeral of disgraced former priest

By Conor Cullen
Wexford People
April 21, 2010

THERE was no homily, no priestly trappings and no tears at the Funeral Mass for Donal Collins in Rowe Street Church last Wednesday morning.

Secrecy had surrounded the funeral arrangements of the disgraced former priest and St. Peter's College principal, defrocked in 2004 after serving a jail sentence for child sex abuse.

However, shortly before 9.30 a.m. last Wednesday morning, the hearse containing his coffin pulled up, unaccompanied, outside Rowe Street Church.

The undertakers wheeled the coffin into the church, where a wreath of white lilies was placed on it. The coffin was then placed in front of the altar, with empty seats all around it.

There were around 20 people in the church, with several local priests up towards the front on the left hand side and a handful of relatives and others further back in the centre aisle.

It was one of the smallest and quickest funeral Masses that Wexford has ever seen.

Fr Jim Fegan, Wexford's Parish Administrator, celebrated the Requiem Mass, which lasted a total of 21 minutes. The ceremony was not hurried, but it was as simple as it possibly could be.

Fr Fegan's welcome to the family of Donal Collins and his expression of sympathy with them on their loss was the only mention of the deceased until the final prayers just 20 minutes later.

He was referred to by his given name, Donald, by Fr Fegan, not Donal as he was more commonly known – though his reputation in St Peter's College had also

The hearse bearing the remains of Donal Collins (pictured inset in 1991) leaves Rowe Street Church. earned him many other titles, and 'Paws' among them.

There was no funeral homily. No-one in attendance came forward to speak about the man named in the Ferns report into child sex abuse by priests in the Wexford Diocese.

Wexford priests in attendance at the funeral included Fr Laurence O'Connor, P.P. Ballycullane, a former President of St Peter's College, Fr Johnny O'Brien, Wexford, Fr William Cosgrave, P.P. Monageer, and Fr Francis Murphy, Gorey.

When Mass ended the undertakers removed the coffin from Rowe Street Church and proceeded to St. Ibar's Cemetery in Crosstown, where prayers were once again said by Fr Fegan, before Donal Collins was laid to rest with his parents, who had lived just down from the church on Rowe Street.


The sparse attendance in the graveyard consisted of almost all of those who had been at the Mass. It was a very low-key final farewell to a man who had risen to such high office but then fallen dramatically through a scandal that rocked the Church to its core.

Collins, who suffered from a heart complaint, had been found dead at his home in Curracloe the previous Friday.

A native of Wexford town, he was one of 21 clerics dealt with in the Ferns Inquiry, which published its report in 2005.

In 1998 – 32 years after the first complaint was made about him – he had been sentenced at Wexford Circuit Court to four years in prison, only serving one.

Following his release from prison, he returned to Wexford and settled in Curracloe. In 2004, he was dismissed from the priesthood.



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