WARM tributes have been paid to Scariff native, Fr Michael (Leo) Long, who was laid to rest on Saturday last in the grounds of the Scared Heart Church.
At the concelebrated funeral mass, Fr Leo was recalled by the Bishop of Killaloe as “certainly his own man” with a warm and outgoing personality.
Born in 1929, he studied at St Flannan’s College in Ennis from 1941 to 1946. He undertook studies for the priesthood in St Patrick’s College, Carlow from 1946 to 1952. He was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Joseph Rodgers on June 8, 1952, alongside his brother Fr Jackie. Fr Leo was ordained for the Archdiocese of Melbourne, and ministered in Australia for many years, before returning to Ireland in 1991. He then ministered in Kilmurry McMahon for a year before serving in Silvermines and Templederry, retiring to Nenagh in 2017. He spent his final months at Carrigoran Nursing Home in Newmarket-on-Fergus and died at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) following a short illness.
“Fr Leo had a great capacity for friendship and had many loyal friends,” Bishop Fintan Monahan told mourners. “Being such an entertaining and witty character, he made friends easily and as someone said he had the capacity of being able to growl at his friends just as quickly as he would entertain and cajole.”
The Bishop recalled happy visits to Nenagh when Fr Leo was present. “He held court at the head of the table,” he recalled. “I was invariably put in the corner back position. I always felt Leo was uneasy being marked by a bishop and felt he was slightly subdued and toned down on the banter and outspokenness on such occasions. Like so many of that generation interaction with bishops was generally on the basis of the less said the better.
“Fr Leo was, I’m told ‘certainly his own man’, perhaps the most outgoing and extrovert of the family. He displayed an independence of spirit, freedom and willingness to give things a go. Bearing that in mind it is little wonder that he lived an adventurous life, ministering in Australia for many years, being ordained for Melbourne Archdiocese.”
Bishop Monahan noted that Fr Leo worked well beyond retirement age and said that despite his adventurous spirit, his heart was always in County Clare. “He was good to family and that was very much reciprocated in spades,” the bishop said. “In his latter years, it was good to see that Leo had time to harvest some quality time of faith and devotion with time to reflect and pray. I recall calling to him during the pandemic in his residence in Cuan an Chláir. Obviously obligation and duty was so important to him, despite his advanced years. His eyesight was not good enough to read his breviary, but he took great solace in being able to pray the Divine Office in unison with what was being broadcast on EWTN that he tuned into regularly on his then recently-installed flat screen TV.”
In his homily, Bishop Monahan gave thanks for Fr Leo’s 70 years of service. The Bishop also prayed for Fr Leo’s many friends and his family. He was predeceased by his brothers Fr Jackie and Eamon. He is survived by his sisters Sr Consilio, Loughrea, and Mary McInerney, Ennis; as well as his brother Neilus and his sister-in-law Kitty, Scariff; his nieces, nephews, relatives, friends and the Bishops and Priests of the Archdiocese of Melbourne, Australia and the Diocese of Killaloe.