Tuesday, August 24, 2010


The funeral took place last week in Holy Trinity, our principal church in Cork, of Br Donal O'Mahony OFM Cap. He was a native of Blackrock, Cork, who joined the Capuchin order in 1958 and was best known as the founder of Threshold, the national housing organisation, that came about following his appointment as chaplain to flat-dwellers in Dublin.  He also worked in Northern Ireland during the 1980s, engaging with paramilitaries on both sides to promote and facilitate dialogue as an alternative to violence, most importantly in the Herema kidnapping case. 

Most recently, Br. O'Mahony acted as International Director of the Damietta Peace Initiative whihc he founded to promote peace and a non-violent culture through the African continent. In 2008, his contribution peacemaking was marked with a Peace Award from the Interfaith Foundation South Africa.
Described as an "unsung hero", Br. O'Mahony was membered on the day of the funeral by contributors to Joe Duffy's RTE Liveline programme. Speaking on the programme, Br. Kevin Crowley OFMCap of the Capuchin Day Centre in Dublin described Fr O'Mahony as "a real and true follower of Francis, who had concern for all those in need. In all ministries, he was loved". Speaking of Br. O'Mahony legacy, Aideen Hayden Chairperson of Thresh said: "Br. O'Mahony's vision of a more inclusive and just society, where everyone has a proper home still informs our work today."  The friars remember him as a gentle optimist and a man of deep and active faith.

After leaving doing the Leaving Cert at our school in Rochestown he studied journalism in UCC before going to work for the Irish Independent as a sports writer. On his way to attend the golf tournament in St. Andrews he met a friend, now Br. Sylvester O'Flynn, who was on his way to join the Capuchins and over a coffee they had a good chat. At St. Andrews Donal got into a debate with an atheist. Something was stirred in him. He came home and a month later he joined the Capuchins.

In his early years as a Capuchin he edited a number of periodicals in Ireland, all long now defunct. In America he made some wealthy and powerful friends but never ceased to be a humble and unassuming man, gentle and truely Franciscan.  Even over the last few years as he struggled with illness he remained a man of hope. As his health declined he wanted nothing more than to return to South Africa and continue his work for peace through dialogue. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

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