Northern Ireland

Tributes paid to Greysteel priest Fr Stephen Kearney

Fr Stephen Kearney
Fr Stephen Kearney

A PRIEST who served in Co Derry at the time of the 1993 Greysteel loyalist attack has been described as "gifted" and "extremely bright".

Tributes were last night paid to Fr Stephen Kearney who died yesterday aged 76.

The popular priest was a curate in the Greysteel area when loyalists shot dead eight people at the Rising Sun Bar on the evening of October 30 1993.

Originally from Aughabrack in Co Tyrone, he served in several parishes before being appointed as priest in residence at Cappagh parish, near Omagh, several years ago.

Parish priest at Cappagh Fr Kevin McElhennon last night said his former colleague only occasionally referred to the massacre.

"He didn't speak about it too much," he said.

"It was obviously something that impacted on him greatly.

"How could it not be engrained on your memory after that."

Fr McElhennon described his colleague as an "earthy man".

"He was very much a people's priest in the sense that people had a great affection for him," he said.

"He was a man of the land and his own people were farmers.

"The way he connected with people was through their place.

"Place was important and people were important."

Fr McElhennon said Fr Kearney, who had been unwell in recent months, went into semi-retirement several years ago but "took his duties like everybody else and did not go into retirement mode".

He described his as a "great story teller" and a "very gifted man and extremely bright".

Fr Kearney's remains will repose in St Mary's Church, Knockmoyle and will will be open for private prayer between10am-6pm and 7pm-9pm today.

Requiem Mass will be held in St Mary's Church, Killyclogher on Saturday at 1pm, with interment afterwards in St Mary's Cemetery Aughabrack.