From Canon Ryan’s Baby Brother

Fr. Michael was ordained to the priesthood on the 14th June 1959 in the Cathedral of the Assumption, Thurles, Co. Tipperary. I was twelve years of age at the time. I was still in national school, but due to go to secondary school the following September.

It was around Easter 1953 that Fr. Michael announced that he had decided to become a priest and I can remember how proud my late Father and Mother were at that time. Fr. Michael is the eldest of a family of five, so it was a proud moment for us all.

The summer of 1959 was an excellent summer and June brought a heat wave. The Moydoo road opposite our house at that time was a sand road and any cars that travelled on it left a trail of dust. How our summers have changed!

The family travelled from Gurteen in Sligo to Thurles for the ordination. My Brother Dermot drove a Vauxhall Wavern, hired for the occasion. Travelling to Thurles in 1959 was like going to America today, a journey of 150 miles. The Ordination was an extended family get-together. I was meeting, for the first time, cousins I had only heard about.

The ordination ceremony was memorable with such a large number of young men receiving Holy Orders. The pomp and ceremony of the entire occasion will always stay in my memory.

Fr Michael’s first Mass was celebrated in St. Patrick’s Church, Gurteen on Monday 15th June. The Church was packed to capacity with neighbours and friends. I will always remember the first time Fr Michael gave the Holy Eucharist to my late Mother and Father and then to the rest of our family.

After a short break, Fr. Michael then went to Motherwell diocese in Scotland, where he has ministered in various parishes for the last 50 years. He has always spoken of how lucky he is to have ministered to such kind and considerate people who always made him feel at home. He has indeed been lucky to have the caring attention of Sister Sheila since he came to St Bride’s. She whips him into line and looks after him. It would take a fellow Sligonian to understand his west of Ireland whims and fancies.

Fr. Michael was never a man for sun holidays. He always comes home to Gurteen twice a year, for a month in July and a fortnight after Christmas. His regular haunts are Strandhill, Lough Gara, Bundoran and Carrontemple bog, where he enjoys the scenery, but not the work associated with the latter. I wish Fr. Michael many more years of ministry in Scotland and hope that the Lord gives him good health to carry it out.

Nicholas Ryan