Apostle of the Saddle - Fr James Comerford 1849-1918

Apostle of the Saddle - Fr James Comerford 1849-1918

Last Sunday 11.30am Mass in Mullinahone was an anniversary Mass for Fr. James Comerford who was laid to rest in Mullinahone on Easter Sat. 1918, one hundred years ago.  

Fr. Comerford was born in Clashbeg on 30th March 1849 just after the Famine.  His parents were John Comerford and Mary Gleeson.  Fr. Comerford was ordained in Thurles in 1876.  He volunteered to become a missionary priest in Queensland in Australia.  He spent the next 25 years as a missionary, mostly in the Outback.  

He was an imposing figure of a man being 6 feet 6 inches or 2m tall.  He did most of his travelling on horseback.  He worked in a moving railway parish that at one time stretched for 500 miles. This meant that as the railway lines were put down, that the hundreds/ thousands of workers moved on to putting down the next piece of track.  He became known as “The Apostle of the Saddle” because of his way of getting around.  

His 35 years of ministry began to take a heavy toll on his health and he returned to Ireland in 1911 where he helped in local parishes for a number of years.  He ended his priestly ministry in the newly founded convent in Dundrum, a place well known to our own Fr. McGrath.  

Fr. James Comerford died in Dundrum during Holy Week 1918.  His  body  was received in his native St. Michael’s Church on Good Friday and he was interred on Holy Saturday behind the grave of Charles J. Kickham in the church cemetery.  His grave is marked with a beautiful headstone of the Sacred Heart.  

The old Comerford farm where he was born still exists in Clashbeg, but the Comerford name has changed through marriage over the years to Breen and then Fitzgerald before passing on  to Ena Heron and her daughter on the death of the late Jim Fitzgerald.  

We, in Mullinahone should be proud of our “Apostle of the Saddle” Fr. James Comerford.