On Sunday 23 December last Fr Kevin Duffy was installed as the new Parish Priest of Irvinestown (Devenish), a parish which includes both the town of Irvinestown and the adjoining area of Whitehill. Fr Duffy was installed in his new role by the Diocesan Administrator of the Diocese of Clogher, Monsignor Joseph McGuinness. He succeeds Canon Michael McGourty who has retired as PP of Devenish following twenty years of service there as Parish Priest. Canon McGourty was one of the concelebrants at the Fr Duffy’s installation Mass in the Sacred Heart Church in Irvinestown.
Describing Fr Duffy’s installation as ‘an occasion of great joy and hope for the parish’, Mgr McGuinness noted that it was a moment for people to offer thanks, not only for a new parish priest, but also for the faithful service of Canon McGourty. The Diocesan Administrator praised Canon McGourty’s ‘generosity in continuing in his retirement to offer service to the Diocese where it is sorely needed’.
Mgr McGuinness said that he was assured that the people of the parish had already come to appreciate the great personal qualities and pastoral gifts of their new PP, Fr Duffy, adding that ‘Fr Kevin, throughout his ministry has shown great kindness, sensitivity and generosity of spirit. His faithfulness to his calling as a priest to serve his people unselfishly and his deep pastoral commitment has been evident in all the parishes in which he has served’, he said.
Fr Duffy is a native of the parish of Aughnamullen East, near Ballybay in Co Monaghan. He was ordained in 1988 and since then has served in the parishes of Derrygonnelly, Co Fermanagh, Fintona, Co Tyrone, Castleblayney, Co Monaghan (for 18 years) and Lisnaskea-Maguiresbridge, Co Fermanagh, his most recent appointment for the past three years. He was spiritual director of the Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes for twenty years and has also been worked with the Catholic marriage care service, ACCORD. Fr Duffy also served as secretary to the Diocesan Priests’ Council for a time.
The Parish of Devenish lies along the shores of and includes part of Lower Lough Erne in County Fermanagh. The northeast corner of the parish lies in Co Tyrone. Today the focal point of the parish is the town of Irvinestown. There is St Molaisse’s church at Whitehill. The modern parish takes its name from Devenish island on Lough Erne, founded in the 6th century by St Molaisse. In its time, it was one of the most important monastic sites in Ireland and its influence as a monastic diocese shaped the boundaries and much of the history of the parishes of this part of Fermanagh and beyond. Today, the island contains a twelfth-century round tower, a fifteenth-century High Cross and the remains of an Augustinian Priory from the twelfth-century. The Soiscél Molaisse, an eleventh-century shrine for holding a small book of the Gospels, originated at Devenish and is now in the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin.