Father Anthony Kirrane CSSR
Anthony Kirrane was born on the 25th of February 1888 and was baptised the same day. His father's home was in Killasser but as his mother died when he was just two years old he was sent to live with his maternal grandparents and later with his aunt, Mrs. McGuinness, in Aclare.
After attending the local primary school in Kilmactigue he entered St. Nathy's College, Ballaghadereen, to begin his secondary education at the age of 13.
A relative of his, Very Rev. M.D. O' Hara was one of the pioneers in planting the faith in New Zealand and served in the Auckland Diocese. He had an uncle and a brother who were priests in the same Diocese.
He also had a sister who was a nun in the Marist Convent, Tubbercurry. With a religious background like this it was no surprise that, having completed his studies in Saint Nathy's, he should enter Maynooth to study for the priesthood.
In June of 1912 he was ordained for the Diocese of Achonry. In Maynooth he was described as a brilliant student. He acquired an MA degree and also a BD (Bachelor of Divinity).
Galway and Killala
In 1912 and for decades to come there were more priests ordained for the Diocese of Achonry than were needed in the Diocese. So Anthony was given an appointment outside the Diocese. For about two years he served in the Parish of Gort in the Galway Diocese.
After this he was given an appointment in the Parish of Backs (Knockmore) in the Diocese of Killala where he served for a further two years. He was then called back to his own Diocese and was appointed to the parish of Bonniconlon where he served for six years. His last appointment in Achonry Diocese was in Tubbercurry where he spent about two years.
From the year of his ordination Fr. Anthony had a strong desire to join a Religious Order. While in Gort and Killala he met some Redemptorist priests who were giving parish missions.
He was very impressed by them and so he decided to join the Redemptorist Order.
However it was many years later, 1925, when he finally decided to join the Redemptorist Order. On 16th March 1925, he joined the Redemptorists when he entered the Novitiate in Dundalk.
For some years he taught students who were studying for the priesthood in the Redemptorist House in Esker, Co. Galway. However he spent the greater part of his life preaching Parish Missions and giving Retreats.
He became a very eminent preacher over the years. Archbishop Kinnane of Cashel who was a classmate of Fr. Kirrane in Maynooth used to say that he considered Fr. Kirrane the best preacher he had ever heard.
Fr. Kirrane came from a family of strong nationalist leanings. He was less than four years ordained when the Easter Rising occurred. He took a prominent part on the national side and adhered strictly to the law. The Rising of 1916 and subsequent events were very difficult times in our history and one of the reasons he gave for putting off joining the Redemptorists was that he did not wish to leave his people at such a difficult time.
During those years the people looked to their priests for leadership and support and Fr. Kirrane felt very strongly that this was a time to be with his people and therefore for the present he put off any consideration of joining the Redemptorists.
As a young priest he was involved in the Gaelic League and though not a native Irish speaker, he had a great love for the language and was a fluent speaker of Irish. His knowledge of and love for the Irish language was a great help to him in preaching missions in Irish speaking areas.
Whenever he signed his name in the Parish Record Books, he always signed in Irish - Antoine Ua Ciaráin. This is why his surname in English is sometimes spelt as Kieran rather than Kirrane. Like many priests of his day he was a strong supporter of Sinn Féin and was described as a great lover of all things Irish.
In June of 1962 he celebrated the golden Jubilee of his ordination to the priesthood. During that year he became ill but recovered for the time being. However, towards the end of that year he became ill again and died on the 13th of January 1963. He is buried in the cemetery of the Redemptorist House, Esker, Athenry in Co. Galway.
During his time in Bonniconlon, he was a devoted priest and promoter of Irish culture and local politics. His successor as curate, Fr. Eddie O' Hara was to continue this work especially on the sporting front and this is described in the history of the club elsewhere on the site.