SUNDAY last was a day of sadness in Muintir Bháire when Fr James McSweeney said goodbye to the people of the area as he celebrated mass in Durrus and Kilcrohane for the last time as a priest assigned to the parish.
A native of Millstreet, following his ordination in 1995, he served in two parishes in Cork city, Ballinlough and Ballyvolane, before being appointed as chaplain to Coláiste Choilm Secondary School in Ballincollig in 2008.
In September 2015, he came to Bantry as chaplain to Coláiste Pobail Bheanntraí, with an additional role as assistant priest in Bantry parish. While many young people from Muintir Bháire knew Fr James well through their time in the college, it was only when Muintir Bháire came under the umbrella of Bantry parish as a result of Fr Galvin’s illness, that the wider local community got to know and love Fr James.
A keen cyclist and walker, Fr James has a huge interest in photography and he has held numerous photo exhibitions which have led to the publication of two books A Year to Remember and A Year in Reflection. He is noted for his photos of rural and farming scenes and readers of The Southern Star have had opportunities to enjoy examples of his work. He is also well known as an experienced beekeeper and all who attended his illustrated talk on the subject at Philips’ Green last March were hugely impressed. He spoke with great emotion on Sunday last when he reiterated his love for the Sheep’s Head peninsula and its people. He received enthusiastic applause and was showered with good wishes when he met everyone outside after mass. Many who had got to experience his caring nature and his ability to communicate with people feel sad at his departure. He carries the best wishes of all as he takes up his new role as Parish Priest of Carrigaline. He has his own website at www.todayismygifttoyou.ie and everyone can continue to follow his thoughts and photos online.