Former curate of Ardee, Fr William Murtagh, has passed away aged 98.
Fr Murtagh had been residing in Moorehall Lodge in Ardee of late and he passed away peacefully in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda over the weekend.
He spent 19 years in Ardee between 1958 and 1977, where he was senior curate and helped to set up both the Legion of Mary and Ardee Credit Union in the town. Fr Murtagh was ordained in 1944 and spent time in Dunleer, Beragh (Tyrone) and Faughart before arriving in Ardee. He left to become parish priest of Clogherhead in 1977 where he stayed for 40 years, later as an assistant pastor.
Father Paul Clayton-Lea, now of Tallanstown parish, worked with Father Murtagh at St Michaels in Clogherhead in his later years, previously described his colleague as “a legend.” Father Murtagh is known to have married three generations of the same family in some instances, given his longevity in parish life around Clogherhead.
Father Murtagh was one of the founder members of Ardee Credit Union and was later made an Honourary President.
Born in Dundalk, the son of Mick and Mary Jane Murtagh, the family ran a well known grocery and licensed business at the top of Francis Street in the town for almost a generation. Both their sons – Fr William and Fr Michael – entered the priesthood.
“Ironically my brother, Fr. Michael and I were appointed to two parishes in Louth on the same day, he to Kilkerley, where he died in 1994″, ” Fr William previously said.
Father Murtagh will be reposing at Moorhall Lodge Nursing Home in Ardee from 2pm until 8pm today (Wednesday, September 27th), and again from 2pm on Thursday. Removal will take place on Thursday evening at 5.15pm to Church of St. Michael, Clogherhead, arriving for evening Prayer at 6.30pm. Concelebrated Mass will take place on Friday at 12 noon followed by burial in St. Dennis Cemetery.
Knockbridge based TD Declan Breathnach was among those who paid tribute to Father Murtagh upon news of his passing. “Fr. Murtagh was my boss for 23 years while I was Principal in Walshestown National School. The love and respect that he commanded from communities such as Ardee, Clogherhead, Dundalk and beyond among his fellow priests in the diocese was evident,” he said.
“The children and staff in the parishes he served truly loved him. His ritual visit every Monday to every class room was a lesson to behold. His theme was always centered on three respects that he tried to instill in the children – Respect for Oneself; Respect for your Family; and Respect for your Wider Community was always very much part of the stories he engrossed the children with”.
“He had a profound positive effect on all who knew him and he will be sadly missed by all. In his own words as he would leave the class room “Óró, sé do bheatha ‘bhaile!”
In a statement today, Ardee Credit Union paid tribute to Father Murtagh.
“The Board of Directors regret to announce the sad passing of Fr William Murtagh, President and founder member of Ardee Credit Union,” it read.
“Fr Murtagh constantly presented an unselfish and generous sharing of his time, which inspired others to do likewise. It is acknowledged that his leadership, driving force and belief in the cause which he so wholeheartedly espoused helped lay the solid foundations of the success story that Ardee Credit Union has become today.
“On behalf of all who have been associated with Ardee Credit Union since its inception the Board of Directors wish to say Thank You to Fr Murtagh for giving us such a monument to the dreams and aspirations of such a committed person,” it continued.
As a mark of respect, Ardee Credit Union office will close on Thursday at 4.30pm and Friday from 11am – 2pm due the bereavement.