|Bishop Casey to Come Back from His Exile
Galway Lined up As His New Home after 14 Years out of the Country
By Edel Kennedy and Brian McDonald
January 21, 2006
BISHOP Eamonn Casey is to return to Galway in the immediate future to work and see out his retirement, the Irish Independent can reveal.
Fourteen years after he fled Ireland following the revelation he had fathered a son by Annie Murphy, the 78-year-old cleric is set to finally face the people of Galway.
While he has returned anonymously to Ireland on rare occasions during his self-imposed exile, he is understood to have decided to stay away from Galway in particular for fear of re-igniting the controversy or causing offence.
But now, following sustained contact with senior Church figures, the Irish hierarchy has decided the time is right and has approved his return to his former diocese. It is understood that Dr Casey will be based in a south Galway parish.
Bishop Martin Drennan of Galway is believed to have invited Dr Casey to return and see out his retirement among the people he served from 1978 until 1992.
The final details are currently being worked out for a press conference to announce details of his return to Galway. It will be held in Galway city, possibly over the weekend.
A colleague of Dr Casey at the Staplefield parish in Sussex, Fr Martin Jakubas said he believed Dr Casey would leave his posting in the UK and return to Galway.
"He had been talking about retirement for some time. What I understand is that it's going to be Galway," he told the Irish Independent last night.
Fr Jakubas spoke highly of Dr Casey and stressed that he was well liked by local people.
"We would hope if everything is cleared up we could give him a send-off," he added.
Dr Casey had still not returned to his home in Staplefield yesterday and is believed to be currently in Ireland.
A large volume of post was awaiting his attention at his UK home.
Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton said Dr Casey had always wanted to return home.
"He talked for a long time of going back to Ireland," he said.
Dr Casey, a priest for the last 54 years, served for seven years as Bishop of Kerry.
He disappeared from Galway in May 1992 when it emerged that news of his relationship with Annie Murphy and their son, Peter, was about to break in the media.
He flew to the US before taking up a contract with the American Missionary Society of St James the Apostle to work in Ecuador. His work in South America ended early in 1998.
The then Bishop of Arundel and Brighton, Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, now a cardinal and Primate of England and Wales, invited him to work in his diocese. Bishop Casey has been based at the Parish of St Paul's, Haywards Heath in the west Sussex village of Staplefield ever since.
He is understood to have been greatly saddened by his inability to return home to Galway to attend the funerals of long-time friends and priest colleagues.
He took the decision not to attend such occasions for fear of turning such occasions into "a media circus" and causing greater grief to the families of the bereaved.
He is known to have dearly wanted to attend the funerals of Monsignor Michael Spelman of Salthill, former Bishop of Galway, Dr James McLoughlin and businessman and former Mayor of Galway, Paddy Ryan - a neighbour of his while he lived at the bishop's residence on Taylor's Hill.
Bishop Casey was back in the headlines late last year when it emerged that a woman had made allegations of abuse against him. When informed of the allegations - which have been under investigation by gardai in Limerick - he stood aside from his ministry. He travelled over to Ireland to answer questions.
It is understood that uBishop Casey made himself available at all times to deal with the investigation of the case and travelled here to handle the matter.
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