THERE was great sadness throughout Donegal following the death of popular priest Fr Joseph O’Donnell on Sunday morning. The funeral mass for Fr Joe, as he was affectionately known, will take place in St Eunan’s Cathedral on Wednesday morning followed by his burial in Conwal Cemetery.
Fr Joe spent 24 years in Letterkenny. He served as CC, Conwal and Leck (Cathedral Parish) from 1988 to 1996, CC, Convoy, Chaplain to the Vocational School Raphoe and Royal and Prior Secondary School from 1996 to 1998 and then as CC, Irish Martyrs (Aughaninshin Parish), Letterkenny from 1998 to 2014. In October 2014 he left Letterkenny to become Curate in Mountcharles before being appointed Parish Priest in Ballintra in 2016, a position he held up until his death. Fr O’Donnell was also chaplain at Abbey Vocational School in Donegal Town.
Fr O’Donnell received his primary education in St Baithin’s NS, St Johnston and his Secondary Education in St Eunan’s College, Letterkenny. He studied for the Priesthood at St Kieran’s College, Kilkenny and at All Hallows College, Dublin. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1988.
Speaking to the Donegal News yesterday Fr Eamonn Kelly described Fr O’Donnell as “very kind and very willing to put himself out for people. He was a really kind priest and a faithful servant. He had a little story for every homily.”
Fr O’Donnell was known for his story telling homilies and his children’s mass at Christmas time was particularly popular. During his time in Letterkenny he was heavily involved in community work and served as chaplain of Lurgybrack National School. He was a huge Leeds United fan and started their supporters club in Downtown in 1992.
Fr O’Donnell passed away at the Donegal Hospice on Sunday following an illness. He is pre-deceased by his parents Hugh and Eileen O’Donnell, Main Street, St. Johnston. He is survived by his brothers Seamus, Ballybrit, Galway City, Jude, St. Johnston and sister Elaine, St Johnston, Aunt Mary Sarah Doherty, Porthall, niece Niamh, sister-in-law Jacqueline, cousins and a wide circle of family, friends, fellow Clergy and parishioners.
His remains will repose at St. Brigid’s Church Ballintra today (Monday) from 2pm until Rosary at 9pm, and on Tuesday reposing at St. Eunan’s Cathedral, Letterkenny from 2pm until Rosary at 10pm. Funeral Mass will be at St Eunan’s Cathedral on Wednesday at 12 noon with burial afterwards in Conwal Cemetery, Letterkenny.