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Archdeacon Rowland Blennerhassett

Venerable Archdeacon Richard Noel Rowland Blennerhassett, who has died, spent several years of his ministry in Mayo and Galway, including 22 years in Westport from 1947 to 1969. He was in his 100th year and was predeceased by his wife, Elizabeth Maraquita, on July 10, 2004.
Born on December 19, 1909, to George Henry and Frances (Fetherston), Blennerhassett, he was educated at Wesley College, Dublin, and Trinity College, Dublin, where he received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1933 and a Master of Arts in 1952.
He was ordained in 1933 and priested in 1934. His early clerical appointments were as curate in Cobh from 1933 to 1937, which also included British Army and Navy Chaplaincy, and Rector of Comeragh and Kilmacthomas from 1937 to 1945. In 1945, he was appointed to Knappagh and Louisburgh for a two-year period, and in 1947 he was appointed Rector of Westport, Newport and Clogher, an appointment that, later, was to include the pastoral care of Achill (Dugort).
His distinctions and awards during his time in the west included Rural Dean of Cong, 1947-1949; Rural Dean of Omey (Clifden), 1949-1953; Domestic Chaplain to Bishop of Tuam, Killala and Achonry, 1951-1957; Rural Dean of Tuam, 1954-1956; Rural Dean of Ballinrobe, 1956-1963; Canon and Prependary to Kilmoylan and Taghsaxon, 1952-1956; Canon and Prependary to Kilmaine More and Kilmeen, 1956-1969; Archdeacon of Tuam, 1956-1967; and Canon and Prependary of Kilmactalway in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, 1960-1967.
In 1969 he moved from the West to the Diocese of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, where he held the position of Rector of the Timoleague Union of Parishes, including Kilbritten and Courtmacsherry, until his retirement in the early seventies. He ministered part-time under general licence in the Diocese of Ardfert from 1973 until the early years of the new millennium. He made his home in Fenit near Tralee.
He was a keen fisherman all his life and fished to the age of 95. There were many stories told of his fishing experiences on the lakes and rivers of Mayo and Galway. He had a boat on Lough Mask for many years.
He also had a lifelong interest in woodwork. He was self-taught and built several boats, one of which, the People’s Boat, featured in an article in The Mayo News in the 1960s. It was a 23 foot, two-berth cabin cruiser, which he built single-handedly and subsequently sailed in Clew Bay and Fenit. He was a long-time member of the Tralee Bay Sailing Club.
Always an enthusiastic gardener, the Archdeacon kept a productive fruit and vegetable garden wherever he ministered.
In his retirement, he took up wood-turning and made many lamps and bowls as well as dolls’ houses. He always kept a gun dog, and shot to the age of 73. His preference was for snipe, though he also took woodcock and pheasant.
On his leaving Westport in 1969, the local RC priest, Canon Tom Cummins, said that the only thing that ever came between them was The Mall River.
He was one of the founder members of the first branch of the Probus Club in Tralee.
The Archdeacon is mourned by his daughters, Maraquita and Patience; sons, Godfrey and Frank; grandchildren, Thomas, Samantha and Anneke; daughter-in-law, Elisa; extended family and many friends.