Ukulele-playing Donegal priest named ‘inspirational hero’ of Covid crisis

Fr Pat Ward accompanies himself singing on the ukulele

A Donegal priest who plays ukulele and sings to his parishioners during virtual Masses has been named an “inspirational hero” during the Covid crisis, Seamus McKinney writes in the Irish News.

Fr Pat Ward, parish priest at Kincasslagh, was recognised in an awards scheme by Gala Retail and Virgin Media to find the most inspirational people in each of the Republic’s 26 counties.

Nominated by members of his congregation and friends, Fr Pat was selected for his “determination and positive attitude”.

During the first lockdown, the Burtonport priest was quick to move to virtual Masses, attracting an audience from as far away as Australia and the US.

A keen music fan, he also accompanied himself singing – often to an empty church – with the ukulele.

It’s not the first time Fr Pat has come to national media attention. In 2017, he facilitated a secret flashmob featuring his most famous neighbour, singer Daniel O’Donnell, at the wedding of parishioner Patricia Doogan.

After beginning the final hymn How Great Thou Art, some of Ireland’s most famous country and western singers stood up among the congregation to sing solo and then in unison for the new bride.

Kincasslagh parishioners Daniel O’Donnell and his wife Majella then joined other singers on the altar, reducing the new bride to tears.

Judges said Fr Pat showed by his selfless acts and inspirational deeds how he had made Ireland a better place during the Covid-19 pandemic.

He will be rewarded with a break at a country house hotel.

Gala chief executive Gary Desmond said the awards were designed to recognise those “amazing people” who had become true heroes in Irish lockdown life.

“2020 has been hugely difficult for everyone. However, it has also demonstrated the immense community spirit that exists within Irish communities,” he said.

Courtesy The Irish News
16 November 2020