A priest reader in the past few days has asked me to write about all the PPs I served under.


Philip was my PP in St. Cadoc’s Llanrumney in Cardiff where I served as a Deacon in 1975.

He was a wonder friendly and caring man and I loved my summer with him. He was also privately very wealthy and generous.

He led a group of parishioners from Llanrumney to my ordination in Waterford in 1976.


Bernard was my PP in my first curacy at Bridgend in Wales. In spite of his name he was hugely anti Irish. When I mistakingly called him O’Driscoll he screeched: “Drop the fucking O, sonny”.

He was known as a “curate breaker” and ife in the presbytery was horrific. He was a very heavy drinking alcoholic. He loved to remind me that I came from: “Dirty Dublin”. He was quite sadistic. I only stuck it for 3 months.


He was my PP in Briton Ferry near Swansea. He was also Cardiff diocesan treasurer.

For most of my time there he was very kind and good. Our friendship hit a rock when I fell foul of his longtime housekeeper.

He was a keen golfer, a big drinker and did not believe in celibacy in a heterosexual way.

He was promoted to a bigger parish. He only had a curate in Briton Ferry because.of his diocesan job. The new PP was full time and I was an unneeded extra.


This Tipperary man was my PP in St Teilos Parish Cardiff.

From the first day I met him he indicated that he neither wanted me in his parish or liked me. Like Driscoll, he made life in the presbytery unbearable.

By this time I had wearied of the dictator PP type that Irish priests going to work in England and Wales encountered.

We were unwelcome lodgers in THEIR presbyteries and bullied and intimidated from Day One.

The housekeepers were loyal to the PPs and resented having to look after curates.

Many Irish priests across the water coped by turning to alcohol and lived in a semi sober state until they got parishes of their own.

Living away from family and friends was ery lonely.


Vincent and I were the best of friends for my first year in St. Peter’s, Belfast.

We travelled to clergy dinners and funerals together.

He invites his priest friends to come and hear me preaching.

When he broke his knee on the golf course I gently massaged healing oils into his knee every evening.

The one day he called me into his room and said: “Joe McGurnaghan is the senior curate here and he resents our friendship and all we do together. From now on we will have to be less close friends”.

And that’s what happened.

By the way Vincent was absolutely heterosexual – as the parish women and girls of St Louise’s college found out with their hips being touched and their bums pinched.

Sr Genieve banned McKinley from St. Louise’s.

Genieve was a Maggie Thatcher. Her and I got on very well. I lunched with her many days in the school.

My last four years in St Peters was wonderful people wise and hell presbytery wise. McKinly physically assaulted me.


Walter Larkin, feared by St Malachy students and curates was my PP in Kilkeel.

Our first meeting:

WL: Well Buckley, what do you think

PB: I don’t know you Walter but I have heard you are very difficult to work for.

WL: Have you now? And I have heard that you are very disobedient? Do you know all the priests are waiting for us to fight?

PB: No but I’m not surprised.

WL: (stretching out his hand) Let’s fool them and be friends.

And so we’re were.

We worked well together and had long talks about theology and especially the “Last Things”.

He was afraid of going to hell.

I visited him on his deathbed and he asked me for a blessing.


Was my PP in Larne.

He was kind and good and generous.

I had no.problems with him.

Paddy himself had been a bit of a “rebel curate” in his own time.

He had a hate/hate relationship with the vicar general Monsignor Patrick Mullaly to saw to it that he never became a PP in his time.

The day Daly sacked me Paddy came to my house, shook my hands and said: “I wish I had your balls”.

I am very glad to have lived awY from other priests for the past 38 years.

But I don’t forget those priests who were kind to me.