Priest (73) Vanishes As Parishioner Has His Baby

By Brian McDonald
Irish Independent
January 18, 2006

A PRIEST in his 70s has disappeared from a west of Ireland diocese after his parishioners discovered he had fathered a child with a young woman, less than half his age.

The current whereabouts of curate Fr Maurice (Mossy) Dillane (73) are unknown. He is thought to have left the diocese of Clonfert in recent weeks to live with a relative in the south of the country.

News of Fr Dillane's relationship with the woman in her early 30s has shocked people living in the parish of Woodford-Looscaun in east Galway.

Fr Dillane had been appointed curate in Looscaun - a townland attached to the village parish of Woodford - about 18 months ago by Bishop John Kirby. A former missionary priest, he was on loan to the diocese.

He had previously served in the Ballinasloe parish of Mullagh and Killoran, during which time, it is understood, he began his relationship with the young woman.

People living in Woodford-Looscaun apparently had no idea of the relationship until news leaked out that the woman had given birth late last year.

The elderly curate has been an immensely popular figure in the east Galway community and was regarded as excellent company socially.

Fr Dillane had been absent from his parish duties for several weeks with a back complaint.

He is understood to have been hospitalised and was recovering from surgery until recently. As rumours spread of his involvement with the young woman, members of the local Pastoral Council acted to ascertain the facts. They met with Bishop Kirby late last Saturday afternoon and sought details of Fr Dillane's involvement in the matter.

It is understood that Bishop Kirby explained the facts as he understood them. The bishop is believed to have only become aware of the controversy in the early days of the New Year and he assured the Pastoral Council of his own great concerns for the welfare of the woman and her baby.

The bishop is understood to have taken the initiative in meeting with the woman a number of times. He is also believed to have met with her parents to assure them of his continuing support in the difficult situation facing their daughter.

Bishop Kirby also had a showdown meeting with Fr Dillane on January 6 last. At that meeting Fr Dillane confirmed his relationship with the young woman and the fact that he had fathered the baby. Following a further meeting some days later, Fr Dillane left the parish.

In a statement last night Bishop Kirby said: "On January 6 last a priest on loan to the Clonfert diocese confirmed to me that he had recently fathered a baby with an adult woman. Since then I have met both the priest and the mother.

"I hope that the priest, who has ceased to work in the diocese, the mother and all those involved, will be given appropriate time and space to plan for their respective futures.

"I consider this to be a private matter and, as such, I will make no further comment." The chairperson of the Woodford-Looscaun pastoral council, Justin O'Byrne welcomed Bishop Kirby's statement as an assurance of support for the woman and her baby.

Mr O'Byrne said: "I'm very happy as a parishoner that this matter is being dealt with in a proper manner by the bishop."


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