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Missionary priest laid to rest

A MISSIONARY priest from Feakle died aged 85 on Tuesday, February 11 in Tallaght Hospital.

Fr Cyril Sheedy CSSp was born in Feakle on April 7, 1928 to Lily (née McGrath) and Jeremiah Sheedy. After secondary-school studies in Rockwell College, he entered the Spiritan (Holy Ghost) novitiate in 1946, completed his BA in 1950 and later got his H Dip Ed. In line with the then custom for Spiritans studying for the priesthood, he spent two years in a Spiritan school as a prefect on the Caribbean island of Trinidad from 1950 to 1952. He worked as a member of school staff, teaching classes, coaching teams and helping to supervise pupils.

After completing his theology studies at Kimmage Manor, Cyril was ordained to the priesthood in Clonliffe College in July 1955 by Archbishop John Charles McQuaid. Also ordained that day was his older brother, Val, who went on to minister with the Spiritans in Nigeria and subsequently in the USA, as a priest of the Diocese of Orlando, where he remains.

Nigeria had the largest number of Irish Spiritans on overseas mission at that time and until the Nigerian Civil War in the late 1960s. From January 1957, Fr Cyril was assigned to the new teacher-training college in Ayangba in the Benue region. He might reasonably have expected to carve out a long missionary career in West Africa, like many fellow Irish Spiritans. However, his stay came to an abrupt end after just two years when he was seriously injured in a car accident. This necessitated hospitalisation both in Nigeria and for quite some time on his return to Ireland.

Although not fully recovered, Fr Cyril took up a teaching role in 1960 in St Michael’s College in Dublin which, like Rockwell College, was and remains one of a number of schools and colleges run by his congregation in Ireland. There he became not only a very dedicated teacher but he also took on many extracurricular activities, including producing school plays and operas.

He remained part of the Spiritan community in St Michael’s until 2011, when the community residence was converted for use by students of Duquesne University in the US, who spent a semester in Dublin.

Fr Cyril moved to Kimmage Manor and it was there that he lived until his final illness. Pre-deceased by his sisters, Kathleen, Rita and Sr Dympna and his brother, Leo, he is survived by his brothers, Declan, Dermot, Kieran and their families, and by Fr Val, whose “unselfish and generous support to Cyril” was remarked upon at the funeral mass. These included regular transatlantic telephone calls and annual summer holidays with Fr Cyril in Feakle.

Fr Cyril was buried in the Spiritan plot in Dublin’s Dardistown Cemetery on Friday, February 14.

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