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30 Sept 2022

Three Tipperary people who made a difference in life have their legacies carved in wood

Sculptor Paradzai honours Fr Alec, Fr Dan and Sr Bernard

Three Nenagh people who have done so much to help others have had their contribution to local and national life carved into history by a local sculptor.

Paradzai Havatitye, who is originally from Zimbabwe, has captured the essence of the spirit and soul of Fr Alec Reid, Sr Bernard Quigley and Fr Dan Fitzgerald in three oak carved statues he has created and which are now in situ in St Mary of the Rosary Church.

Para created the life-sized statues after he was approached by local parish priest Fr Des Hillery to commemorate three people who had lived the Gospel. Fr Des was particularly keen to celebrate the Nenagh parish Mission statement of the words of Pope Francis: Please, Thank you and I'm Sorry.

For Fr Reid, who was hugely involved in the Northern peace process, Para was asked to take as his reference the iconic photograph of the Summerhill-born priest giving the Last Rights to a dying British soldier who had been shot by the IRA in 1988 in Belfast. The work symbolises "I'm sorry".

The late Sr Bernard from Ballywilliam, Nenagh, who passed away in 2017 at the age of 84, joined the Sisters of Mercy at the age of 17 and became known as a champion of people in need, whether that was as matron in Nenagh Hospital or setting up Nenagh Day Care Centre or abroad working in an orphanage in South Africa.

Sr Bernard was also known for working with the homeless and her carving depicts a mother and child, symbolising "thank you".

Fr Dan, who was renowned for visiting the sick in Nenagh Hospital and around the town, was born in 1916 in Cork and died in 2016 in the Columban centre in Navan.

A missionary priest, he came to Nenagh in 1988 and stayed for 23 years. He served in China after the second world war and was expelled from there in 1952.

Para's statue of Fr Dan seeks to honour all missionaries from Nenagh and beyond who have gone forth to proclaim the word of the Gospel.

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