The funeral cortege of Fr John Cummins coming up the Main Street in Newbridge
A huge crowd gathered in Newbridge this morning to pay their respects to the late Fr John Cummins who died in a freak car accident at his home in Laois last week.
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Brenda Drumm, of the St Conleth Parish Council welcomed the large attendance to Newbridge parish church.
She said, Abbeyleix and Ballyroan paid tribute to Fr John at a special Mass in remembrance of the late parish priest on Saturday.
Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, Denis Nulty, was chief celebrant of today’s Requiem Mass for the priest who was killed in a freak car accident outside his home in Abbeyleix last Wednesday, January 30.
Newbridge native, Fr Cummins served in Abbeyleix for the past 18 months and before that for four years in Naas.
He had been a chaplain at Carlow IT and 12 years in Carlow Cathedral - 11 as administrator.
Bishop Nulty told the gathering that Fr Cummins had spent a very fulfilled and fruitful 18 months as parish priest of Abbeyleix.
The Bishop welcomed the community, family and friends and all Fr John’s colleagues.
He said Fr John had been “extraordinarily close” to his colleagues.
“It was difficult to deal with the loss of one so gifted, so able and so talented,” he said.
In an emotional and funny applause raising tribute, Fr Ger Nash, Fr John’s long time friend, said that after the news of his death broke, he has been contacted by so many people who said, ‘you don’t know me but…’
Fr Nash said he was both “devastated and delighted” to be speaking to everybody about his friend.
They were a bit like Laurel and Hardy. “The more he (Fr John) ate, the thinner he got. The less I ate…..”
Fr John, he said, was “a proud Kildare man.”
He said he was proud of Kildare, its links with St Brigid and St Conleths and its deep historical roots. Fr Nash said that his friend was nurtured by a great family.
"He loved his family, his beloved aunts and uncles, his cousins," he said.
Fr John treasured links and connections including all the Cummins and Murtagh family links.
“He valued and knew all the links between them,” he said.
Fr Nash said he and Fr John traveled a lot together.
“I spent many holidays with him over 28 years. They were adventures rather than holidays. You would come across some church or statue in Europe and he would talking about their seed, breed and generation, all off the top of his head.”
Fr Nash said he could bring people on journeys with the telling of his stories.
There was laughter when Fr Nash spoke of what happened in the countries to where Fr John had traveled.
“A lot of the places he visited experienced revolutions or economic collapses after he returned home. People said to him to stay away from a place before they visited it.”
Contemplating on Fr John’s departure, Fr Nash said: “We are missing our navigator. We will be less able and less sure but the memory of a great man will sustain us in the dark days ahead.”