Sadness at passing of Myles Gallagher

The sudden and unexpected death of Myles Gallagher, Baltoney, Gortahork on Saturday, December 3, was learned of with great sadness in the local community.

Donegal’s only hermit, Mr Gallagher celebrated his 90th birthday in October.

He spent the past thirty years living a life of prayer and penance in his family home at Baltoney, Gortahork.


Requiem Mass was celebrated in Christ the King Church, Gortahork on Tuesday, December 6, with burial afterwards in the adjacent cemetery.

Chief Celebrant was Fr Donnacha O’Baoill, PP Gortahork, assisted by Fr Sean O’Gallchoir, retired PP, Gortahork, Fr Brian O’Fearraigh, PP, Gaoth Dobhair and Brother Jeremiah, Ards Friary.

Symbols of Myles’ life, including a number of the many leaflets and booklets he wrote, were brought to the altar by grand nieces and grand nephews.

The readings were read by his grand niece Corina and nephew Seamus (Danny) McGee. Grand nieces and nephews read the Prayers of the Faithful.

They were joined by Patricia Harley, Principal, Gortahork NS who read a poem that was penned by Myles. The music was provided by his grand niece Marie McTeague.

Mr Gallagher’s strict approach to a spartan life was the subject of a documentary by Letterkenny film maker Andrew Clarke three years ago.

A Life Less Trodden is a 95 minute film that starts and ends in Donegal but with Myles’ around the world adventures sandwiched in between.


From being a teenage taxi driver in Donegal to joining the New Zealand Air Force to providing waiter services to Neil Armstrong, Myles’ story was also told through the column inches of the Donegal News on a number of occasions.

In his homily, Fr O’Baoill referred to the newspaper articles noting that although hermits live in solitude, Myles did not always isolate himself away from the rest of the community.

Indeed, as a young man Myles travelled to New Zealand where he worked in the hotel industry before becoming a bus driver in Christchurch.

He returned to Dublin in his mid-twenties working as a bus driver for two years before travelling back ‘Down Under’ to work as the sacristan of Christchurch Cathedral.

From there he travelled to Sydney, Australia and the Hotel Wentworth in Kings Cross where he was employed as a room service waiter before moving to Western Australia where he would spend the next six years working as a lay missionary with the aboriginal community.

It was while in New Zealand that he joined the air force and got married.

Always though he had to keep moving and before long he found himself in Sydney working as a room service waiter in one of the city’s top hotels.

Among those who pressed a tip into his hand were James Bond actor Roger Moore and Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon.

Myles spent his 21st birthday sailing through the Panama Canal. A later voyage across the world would take him through the Suez Canal and via the Cape of South Africa.

In 1964 he answered Mass in Latin in Jerusalem on the Hill of Calvary at the request of a Japanese bishop.

Myles arrived home in 1976 and his next port of call was the Cistercian Monastery in Portglenone in Co Antrim where he spent eighteen months doing his novitiate.

It was about that time he decided that he was more suited to living the life of a hermit, a hidden life of prayer.

“I eventually approached Bishop Seamus Hegarty about becoming a hermit and he approved my application in 1992. Since then I have spent two nights a week in prayer at the Adoration Chapel in Letterkenny, Wednesdays and Sundays, where I have met a lot of nice people. From next week however apart from going to Falcarragh on a Friday and Mass on a Sunday morning I’ll spent the rest of the time, alone, in prayer,” he said in an article in September 2002.

Choosing to leave behind the material things the rest of us take for granted, Myles had no telephone, radio or television at home while he rarely got the opportunity to read newspapers.

Predeceased by his parents, his brother and sisters he is survived by his nieces and nephews and a large circle of family and friends.

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