Donegal centenarian "thooughly enjoyed" 72 years of priesthoodMonday, April 30th, 2012
A County Donegal born priest who celebrated his 100th birthday over the weekend has said that he has, “thoroughly enjoyed,” his 72 years as a priest.
Fr Ambrose O'Gorman who is a native of Kilmacrennan, Ballshannon was born on April 28 1912, just a fortnight after the Titanic sank. Speaking this week to the local media in Donegal, Fr O'Gorman says that he can still remember his ordination day in May 1940 when he was ordained into the Salvatorian Fathers after a number of years study and preparation at the Place of Foundation in Abbots in Langley just outside London.
Speaking of his ordination day, he says that when he arrived at Ballyshannon railway station he will never forget the tumultuous reception he received.
“There was a huge crowd there to greet me. It was wonderful and very moving. There was even the brass band, and everyone paraded through the town with me. I still find it hard to believe that so many people turned out.”
Fr Ambrose returned to England after his ordination and served for 40 years, mostly in Essex and for a short stint in Swansea in Wales. He survived bombing raids in WWII and a plane crash in the 1960's when he was flying back to London from Dublin after visiting his mother.
When he retired from active ministry in 1992, his parishioners in Newbury in England bought him a house in Ballyshannon where he lived until five years ago when, due to failing sight, he moved to Shannagh Nursing home.
Having led such a long life, Fr O'Gorman has many memories of his time growing up in Donegal, and one of the more interesting ones to come to light was that his family knew Hazel Blair, the mother of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Fr O'Gorman revealed that he wrote to the former British Prime Minister two years ago with his memories of Mrs Blair and that he received a reply from Tony Blair thanking him for his letter.
To celebrate Fr O'Gorman's milestone, a special mass was held at Saint Patrick's Church in Ballshannon last Saturday, followed by a reception in the nearby Dorrian's Hotel.
by Sean Ryan