Fr Bobby Fletcher with Parish Sacristans, Peggy Darcy (Killoscully0 and Mary Lynch (Ballinahinch)

Fond farewells to Fr Bobby and Principal Tony

There was an abundance of farewells and good wishes for their former Parish Priest and recently retired national School Principal from the parishioners of Ballinahinch at a function in the village to honour both.

The parish of Ballinahinch-Killoscully was saying farewell to Rev Fr Bobby Fletcher, PP, on his appointment as Parish Priest at New Inn and Tony Hartnett who has retired as Principal at Ballinahinch NS.

Fr Fletcher, a native of Rathdowney, Co Laois, had served 26 years in the area, as curate at Ballina-Boher, and Newport, Birdhill and Toor and Parish Priest of Ballinahinch-Killoscully for the past 10 years.

A native of West Limerick, Tony Hartnett completed twenty years as Principal at Ballinahinch National School up to his retirement from teaching a short time ago.

Eileen Finnegan, Chairperson of the school’s Board of Management, said that the numbers that had come out to the farewell function at the local Community Centre showed the respect that there was for both in the parish.

"We are so glad to have Tony back for the evening because he was so sad at the irreplaceable loss of his wife, Noreen.  We hope that you will enjoy this night and enjoy your retirement," she said.

"We are also glad to have Fr Bobby back too and hope that you are settling in well at New Inn and you know that you will always be very welcome back here," she added.

She welcomed Fr James O'Donoghue, PP, to the parish to replace Fr Fletcher and the appointment of Shane McGrath as School Principal.

She made presentations to Fr Fletcher and Tony Hartnett from the parishioners and school Board of Management.

Mary Grace-Finn, Parents Association, thanked Tony for his generosity to the children and particularly from the parents association.

"You did a great job with all of the children that you put through the school.  I want to assure you that part of you will always be with them and part of you will always be in this community," she said.

Fr James O'Donoghue said that he had known Fr Bobby well because they had both been part of the 'Holy Show'. He thanked Fr Bobby for looking after the parish so well for him.

"On behalf of all the parish I want to wish you all the best in New Inn and I know that you will get on well there.  I know that you were in this area for 26 years and everyone got to know and love you," Fr James said.

Fr Fletcher thanked Tony Hartnett for his help over the years and everyone for "the best parish that I was never in".

"I miss this parish terrible and in particular all my little friends - thanks to all of you who have been absolutely brilliant and to the board of management at the school who were absolutely brilliant," he said.

Tony Hartnett said: "I really want to thank you all for this night and for your generosity.

"On my way in I passed the grave of Fr Gallagher (former Parish Priest) and just over 20 years ago he took a gamble on me when he appointed me as Principal of the school and I was always very grateful to him for that," he said.

"Since then I have worked with a great board of management but above all, I always had super children and I want to specially thank the parents in Ballinahinch and Killoscully. Thank you all very much," he added.

Refreshments were served by the ladies committee, and Fr Fletcher and Tony Harnett received an abundance of good wishes from the parishioners during the evening.