In memory of Fr. Billy O’Gorman

We had the funeral mass for Fr. Billy 0’Gorman on Tuesday, August 26th at Toornafola Church. Billy died after a very brief illness at the age of 73. The funeral was large, and the feelings of sadness, sorrow and real affection for him were tangible. Tony Mullins, in his homily, caught the essence of the man, and did him justice.
I first met Billy in 1959 when he was at Irish College in Foynes. He was funny, outrageous, irreverent and very kind. These characteristics did not diminish with the years.
Last month, I attended a lecture delivered by Carlo Gebler at the Merriman School. He was dealing with the importance of feeling and expression in our lives. During the question and answer session our educational system was discussed and Carlo Gebler wondered why extra points are allowed for Math and not for Dance. Billy would have got the points for Dance and his agility on the dance floor was a metaphor for his carefree attitude, his spontaneity. I remember him saying that when he and another friend were going on their holidays, they drove out the presbytery gates and said “Will we go east or west”.
All through his life as a priest, while he served in many different parishes, he retained that sense of freedom and managed to avoid being swamped by the clerical or institutional world. For him the ordinary human need of the person he was with was of far greater importance than any Church laws or rules. Maybe it was for this reason that he was so deeply loved by so many people
Planning was not his forte. Kindness was. Once when a family were searching for a missing child, the grandmother had to be left on her own. Billy went to her each day to make sure that she was all right and to do basic things like bringing in the turf. When he visited sick people, he did not offer any pious words; he just talked to them about the human realities.
He had two outings on the week leading up to his untimely death—Croke Park to see Limerick play Kilkenny and an evening race meeting in Killarney. Of the latter, he said that he “came alright”. The GAA fraternity and the racing fraternity will miss him—we all will.
Margaret Lee

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  1. MIchael O'Connor says:

    Thanks to Tony Mullins, Margaret Lee and Pat Moore for their tributes to Billy O’Gorman.
    Billy was a great human being and so a very compassionate priest. I knew him since his time in Ardagh/Carrickerry where he was always with the people even out in the Wren with the local group. The last time i met him was at the back of the Hogan Stand at the Kilkenny Limerick match in the monsoon smoking a cigar and drinking a glass of red wine.
    The people of Mountcollins/Tournafulla made everyone welcome and gave him a tremendous farewell along with the people of Limerick.

  2. Pat Moore says:

    Thanks to Margaret Lee for giving us an eternal moment as she recalled the life and ministry of Billy O Gorman.His kindness touched us all for he has real presence.You would cross the street to talk to him and come away heard and refreshed. Kindness flowed from him like his enabling sense of humour.
    I remember his presence at funeral Massses, his Christ like presence as he heard Confessions for the Schools,letting us know about the forgiving God Jesus told us about.
    How his friends and parishioners must miss his presence but he is gone into the Divine Presence he pointed towards. Eternal rest to you Fr. Billy.
    What ever about Limerick hurling you will be missed at Listowel Races!

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