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New Prior for Lough Derg

In the 2017 clerical changes for the Diocese of Clogher, the Diocesan Administrator, Monsignor Joseph McGuinness has announced the appointment of Fr Laurence (La) Flynn as the new Prior of Lough Derg and Parish Administrator of Pettigo. For the past 13 years Fr Flynn has been the Parish Priest of Tullycorbet (Ballybay) Parish.  After his ordination as priest in 1976, Fr Flynn first ministered on Lough Derg during the three-day pilgrimage season of 1978 and since then has been a serving member of the Island clergy team for some weeks most summers up to and including the 2017 pilgrimage season.

Fr Laurence (La) Flynn, New Prior of Lough Derg

On learning of his appointment as Prior of Lough Derg, Fr Flynn said; “My first thought is gratitude to Fr Owen McEneaney and his team at Lough Derg for their sterling work over these past four years.  In a time when everyone recognises how significantly the faith-landscape in Ireland is changing, I truly believe that Lough Derg still has a unique contribution to offer, and I look forward with humility to taking on the trust that is being placed in me.  To borrow some expressions beloved of Pope Francis:  I intend to seek the way for Lough Derg to move ahead ‘in a missionary key’, reaching out from a place that is geographically ‘on the margins’ to offer a welcome to those who feel themselves to be ‘on the margins’, and spiritual accompaniment to all who hear the call to be a pilgrim and who come our way as part of their journey.”

Fr Owen J McEneaney will now move to Tullycorbet (Ballybay), County Monaghan as the new Parish Priest. This parish has a special connection for Fr McEneaney as it was his first appointment as curate following his ordination in 1984 where he served for 6 years.

Speaking about Lough Derg and his appointment to Tullycorbet Fr McEneaney said; ‘It was a privilege to have been part of Lough Derg and to have encountered so many wonderful people – particularly the pilgrims and their humble witness to faith. I am thankful to the Lough Derg team for their support and wish them and Fr La every blessing for the time ahead. I look forward to my new appointment and returning to County Monaghan.

The appointments of Fr Owen J McEneaney and Fr La Flynn are part of the Clogher Diocesan changes effective from 1st October 2017.


For further information please contact:

Sharon Hearty, Communications Office, Lough Derg; on + 353 (0) 71 9861518, Mobile 086 0304670 Email:

Gary Carville, Diocesan Communications & Media Officer, Bishop’s House, Monaghan.            Tel  00 353 47 81019 Mobile 00 353 87 1767226. Email:

Notes to Editors

  • To find out full details of the Clogher Diocesan changes go to the Clogher Diocesan website
  • Fr La Flynn was born in Roslea, Co Fermanagh in 1950. From primary school at St Tierney’s he went on to St Michael’s College, Enniskillen. His seminary training was in St Patrick’s College, Maynooth and then in the Irish College in Rome. After his ordination as priest in 1976, Fr Flynn first ministered on Lough Derg during the three-day pilgrimage season of 1978, and he has served there for at least some weeks each summer continuously ever since, apart from 1992-94, and the following four pilgrimage seasons during his time in Kitui Diocese in Kenya. His appointments have included CC Monaghan Town, teaching staff St Macartan’s College, CC Carrickmacross and CC Clogher, before becoming PP Tullycorbet Parish (Ballybay) in 2004. Fr La’s areas of engagement include liturgical renewal and church music, ecumenism (he was a founder member of Fermanagh Churches Forum), and adult faith development, especially in the New Heart New Spirit programme which ran in various venues across Clogher Diocese for twelve years from 2003.
  • Fr Owen J McEneaney was born in Raferagh, Co Monaghan in 1961. Having attended school locally and in Carrickmacross he studied in St Patricks College, Maynooth, from where he was ordained in 1984. His first appointment was to the parish of Tullycorbet (Ballybay) Co Monaghan where he served as curate for six years. Served as curate in Monaghan Town and was appointed Administrator there in 2001. Fr McEneaney served on Lough Derg from 1991 until 1998 and was appointed Prior in September 2013.
  • St Patrick’s Sanctuary, Lough Derg lies about four miles north of the village of Pettigo in County Donegal. Station Island, the location of the Pilgrimage, is often referred to as Saint Patrick’s Purgatory or simply Lough Derg. In 1780 Lough Derg came under the custodianship of the Diocese of Clogher.
  • For more than fifteen hundred years the story of Lough Derg has been told and as far back as records go, has been associated with St Patrick. Ancient writings have it that the first monks settled at Lough Derg in the fifth century, not long after St Patrick came to Ireland. It would seem to have been well established as a place of pilgrimage by the ninth century, and there is a famous world map of 1492 on which the only place marked for Ireland is the penitential island of Lough Derg.
  • The sanctuary of St Patrick – Lough Derg has also acquired fame both in Christian history and general literature: both Patrick Kavanagh (Lough Derg) and Seamus Heaney (Station Island) have a major poem sequence inspired by the Three Day Pilgrimage.
  • It is striking how Lough Derg continues to hold significant appeal for pilgrims in today’s modern age. As one pilgrim put it during her Three Day Pilgrimage in recent times; “Lough Derg is a special place, a hidden treasure. It is pure and untarnished. It is a place of beauty and rhythm, which provides sanctuary from much of the slavery of modern living – no mobile phones, no Wi-Fi, no TV just the sounds of the creatures of nature, the lapping of the lake water, and buildings and spaces which nourish the spirit.” The Island can offer a meeting place where God’s healing grace is experienced in an intensity seldom encountered elsewhere, through the spiritual programmes, the companionship of fellow pilgrims and the sheer holiness of the Island.
  • The Lough Derg Pilgrimage Season occurs annually from May through until October and the traditional Three Day Pilgrimage season happens between 1st June and 15th One Day Retreats and Special Retreat Days run in the months of May, late August and September following by Youth Retreats in September and October.
  • Detailed information on Lough Derg at
  • The Diocese of Clogher encompasses all of Co Monaghan, most of Fermanagh and portions of Tyrone, Donegal, Louth, and Cavan. It has a Catholic population of 88,000 across 37 parishes. There are 85 churches and 66 priests ministering in the diocese.
  • Monsignor Joseph McGuinness is the Diocesan Administrator of the Diocese of Clogher, pending the appointment by Pope Francis of a new bishop. He is also the Administrator of the Parish of Tyholland, a post he has held since 2010.
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