The following poem was written by local resident Maura Kavanagh, following the death of Claregalway’s Parish Priest, Father Noel Mullin.
No Noel This Christmas
We survived without you
Oh God how we missed you this Christmas gone;
Like a ship on a starless night
you sailed beyond the horizon
Silently, no ripples, no limelight
No gong announced you parting
On the Morning tide.
But forthcoming events had cast their shadow
The River Clare had burst its banks in protest
Flooding your beloved parish of Claregalway,
Waters risen in anger
Finding their levels with a frenzy not seen
in Fifty years,
Ferocious swell swept past the Abbey
Casting a cold eye on all in its path
Cutting off our village at the bridge
A brief clamp on the jugular—
Flooding plains & dwellings
Instilling fear & anguish into people,
Community spirit prevailed, neighbour helped neighbour;
Then came the news of your passing
Just when we needed you most,
Your soothing words, wise, witty and concise
No beating about the bush,
Told us what we needed to know
Reminding what we had forgotten
Or chosen to forget—
Your daily blessing of young and old
Christened out babies, married our Sons & Daughters
Listened to our woes—
Anointed our loved ones and eased their passing
Your homily to the bereaved was second to none.
In gentle tones your carefully chosen words of wisdom
soothed the trauma of death
In all its shades of mystery.
You shook the hand of popes & presidents
Pauper & prince and through it all
Humility was your abounding attribute
Unassuming, non judgemental—
Dignity at its purest;
Cold reality of your premature death
Intensified the misery of constant rain and
Arctic conditions of early December days.
Thankfully Fathers of the SMA were there to carry the load
They in turn were ferried by tractor
over the flooded bridge of Baile Chláir;
This I am sure caused you to smile;
Thousands gathered to pay respect to your grieving loved ones as you reposed
In your very own chapel of rest,
Then into your church for one last time,
On a bitter cold Sunday evening.
On Monday December 7th your Requiem Mass was said
Bishop of Galway & dignitaries of Church & state presented,
Eighty priests & more filed into seats
many tributes were paid, many tears were shed
for our much loved Father Noel.
Beams of Sunlight through the stained glass window
Highlighted your coffin resting in your own familiar alter space
On this first December Monday
thirteen years of Sundays & Mondays
you were Shephard of our flock
No dwindling numbers in these troubled times of scandal and revelations
Claregalway parish was unique
For we had one of the best;
In Silence we walked behind your coffin
Over the bridge of subsiding waters
Where we said our farewell,
They carried you over the border
Laid you to rest with your own people
In Shrule, Co.Mayo
Thank you for all you have done.
you were one in a million.
May your gentle soul rest in eternal serenity
Sleep in heavenly peace
Beidh cuimhne go Deo ort in íntinn
Mhuintir na Gaillimhe go Mór Mhór
Baile Chláir agus an Carn Mór
I Líonnta Dé go geastar sinn aríst.
Cregboy, 28th of December 2009
Maura is married to Simon Kavanagh of Cregboy, both of whom are actively involved in Compántas Lir Drama Group.