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Obituary: The Rt Revd Brian Hannon

11 February 2022

Church of Ireland

The Rt Revd Lord Eames writes:

NOT long after his consecration as a bishop, in the Church of Ireland, Brian Hannon was to experience at first hand the realities of the Irish Troubles. One normal Sunday in the largely rural diocese of Clogher, while he was on a visit to a parish, there came an urgent call: a terrorist bomb had exploded in Enniskillen, near the town war memorial. The blast had swept through the crowd gathered for the annual Remem­brance Sunday ceremony, killing and injuring without warning.

Within minutes of receiving the news, Bishop Hannon found himself min­istering among the dying and injur­ed in the Erne Hospital with a quiet compassion that was to be­­come the hallmark of his episcopal leader­ship in the years ahead.

The Enniskillen bombing is now remembered as but one tragic epi­sode in the darkness of the Troubles through which bishops and clergy in Northern Ireland developed pastoral ministry for which little could have prepared them. Time and again, we found ourselves speaking of the love and support of God in situations of human suffering and human loss.

In the diocese of Clogher, the example and leadership of the Bishop owed as much to his actions on the ground as it did to his public utterances of hope and reconcili­ation to a people in distress. Irrespec­tive of political or religious back­ground, the people of Clogher dio­­cese and far beyond found in Bishop Hannon a man of courag­e­ous faith and a constant advocate of recon­ciliation.

When Brian spoken of his dio­cese, it was clear how important the personal con­­tacts with indivi­duals mat­tered to him. He once re­­ferred to Clogher diocese with its scattered churches as noth­ing more than a “large parish family”. To spend time with him was to notice his personal relatio­n­ship with young and old, often on a first-name basis.

Brian Desmond Anthony Hannon was born in 1936, the son of a Church of Ireland rector, and educated at Trinity College, Dublin, where he gained his colours as a high hurdler on the ath­letics track. He was ordained in 1961 and served as curate of Clooney, in Londonderry, before becom­ing Rector of Desertmartin and then of Christ Church in the city in 1969. In 1982, he was appointed to the Cathedral Parish of St Macartin’s Cathedral, Enniskillen, and, in 1985, became Dean of Clogher. His elec­tion as Bishop of Clogher in May 1986 began an episcopate that lasted to his retire­ment in 2001 on his 65th birthday.

The many tributes paid to Bishop Hannon emphasised again his pas­toral ministry and his compassionate love of “all sorts and conditions” of people. Throughout his long minis­try, Brian was supported by his wife, Maeve, who was herself greatly respected in Clogher diocese and the wider community. Together, they were an exemplary “team” in the service of the Church of Christ.

Brian’s latter years were marked by failing health, during which the care and loving support of Maeve and their sons, Desmond, Brendan, and Neil, were so important to him.

I count it to have been a privilege to be a colleague and friend of Brian Hannon over the years since that Remembrance Sunday in the Erne Hospital, Enniskillen, when I saw for myself his caring and pastoral gifts as a faithful servant of his Master.

This episcopal pastor has left many with gratitude in their hearts for his faithful leadership — but mostly for his example as a loving “father in God”.

The Rt Revd Brian Desmond Anthony Hannon died on 10 January, aged 85.

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