38 -- Fr Tom Molloy
(CC Skehana 1964 to 1970)
Fr. Tom Molloy 1964 – 1970
Fr Molloy was ordained in 1933 and was professor of History and Geography at St Jarlath’s College until he was assigned to Belclare as CC in July 1945. In July 1957 he was transferred as CC to Robeen from which he was transferred in 1964 to become CC in Skehana following the death of Fr. Charles Gibbons. He was a brother of Milltown playwright Joe Molloy and of Christy Molloy who was Principle of Milltown N.S. for a number of years. he also had a sister a nun, Sister Pious, in Rhodesia. While he was born in Milltown he spent much of his childhood with his aunts and uncle, a family called Tuckers in Claremorris where they had a shop. In 1970 he was appointed PP of the parish Killmena in Westport in February 1970 and ministered there until his death in 1980. He was best known for his criticism of communism and the social evils of the world. An avid listener to the World Service radio programmes he often invariably based his Sunday morning sermons on the atrocities befalling in practically every country and he continually condemned the perpetrators of bombings, assassinations and all human injustices. He was a regular contributor to the letters columns of the national newspapers and particularly ‘The Irish Times”. He was also a very staunch critic of the “Late Late Show” and Gay Byrne on Telefís Eireann at the time and gave many a sermon from the altar on Sunday’s telling the people that they should not watch it and to write to Telefís Eireann demanding to have it removed from the schedule. In some ways he probably increased its popularity and caused more televisions to be installed locally as most of the people did not honestly know what “The Late Late Show” was at the time. He was conservative in his beliefs, held a great respect for authority over himself but never enforced it on the people to the extent that other clergy were doing at the time and since.
He loved the game of Chess and was an experienced player holding many trophies and awards which he won over the years. During his time in Skehana he ran classes and taught many of us how to play the game. He also loved the game of Bridge and Whist. He had a deep interest in drama and used drama and entertainment locally as major fundraising tools for both the Church and Hall funds and also in the building of a new priests house in Skehana. He was very involved in the running of Menlough Carnival during his time in the parish. At the time of his arrival in Skehana the Parish Priest, Canon Matthew Loftus, was very ill and approaching the end of his ministry so for the first three years he also had to assume many of the duties that the Parish Priest would normally have done. During his time here, he was always involved in parish events and always ensured that we, in the National School, always had a football to play with. He was always happy playing football among children and when he went to Galway once a week he always ensured that his car was full of parishioners who wanted to travel to the city. He would visit the sick in hospital on his day in Galway and would report back to all the families on how their relatives were doing. Travel and communications in those days were scarce and difficult.
He was always happiest among children which would be frowned upon in today’s society. He would find it difficult in the church today with all the new rules around child safety but I can say with absolute sincerity, being one of the children who spent most of my time in his company, he only had our best interests at heart and we enjoyed him and his company, he enjoyed us and we really missed him and were broken-hearted when he left Skehana.
His departure for Kilmeena was a little ill-timed by Archbishop Cunnane as the church renovations were at a critical point and were never finished to the degree of planning which was being followed by Fr. Molloy. The work really came to a halt and any work done in the next twenty years was really not in keeping with the original plans.
He spent the next ten years as PP in Kilmeena and passed away on April 4th. 1980. As you will notice there is a difference between his gravestone inscription and his memoriam card in relation to the date of death. The stone says April 4th and the card says April 2nd.
He is laid to rest in the grounds of Killmena Church, Westport, Co. Mayo.