As a priest, the parochial house is not your home. It’s the place where you work.

vestments, hanging in hall

This is where I work. I live in this house.  It’s unique when you are talking to a priest because it is not a family home…. Sometimes a priest would bring an elderly parent to live with them…

The Bishop could say to me next week I want you go to X and be a priest there and I would go. So, this is not my home: it is my work. Every priest will adapt it accordingly.

clock and prayer books

A Catholic priest will always live above the shop.

People will come here at all hours, very often it’s not convenient for them to come during the day, so they come at night and they get passports signed: they want advice… to discuss problems; they need counselling.  I’m not a counsellor but I would help and listen and maybe signpost them.

light fitting in parochial house

When a priest goes into any house he brings his own furniture –   personal to him. And when I came into this house it was cleared out, there was nothing.

You get an allowance to maybe… carpet it, curtain it, paint it. I’ve heard of priests leaving a parish and saying I better get this place painted. And they paint it and curtain it and clear off.  In comes the new guy. “ I don’t like that colour” and he’s allowed to get it painted etc. But most of the fixtures and fittings belong to the house and you leave them behind.

kitchen with TV in parochial house

….I suppose if I took a dislike to that kitchen you could change it ok. If it’s over a certain amount of money you have to ask the Parish finance committee and see what they would say.

When I first saw the house I was very happy, very pleased. I felt it a compliment to be entrusted with this place. It’s a generous enough house. I like it.

This house originally came off peg which was a standard 5 bedroom bungalow. It was customised. It is 15 years old.

Upstairs there is a decent bedroom, and there are 2 more bedrooms one ensuite and 1 not. Guest bedrooms.  It’s a sizeable bungalow but there’s not a lot of residential space in it. The kitchen and all the rest was here and I think it’s fine. I don’t want to change it. It will do me.

garden and kitchen view

This is where I spend most of my social time…. At the end of the day when all the work is done looking at the garden, relaxing –  maybe watching  television.

This table and chairs – I was given those as a gift, it’s a very good table. I hold on to it.  I do a lot of business with couples and we have a coffee together. You can put quite a few places at this table. I think there were 6 chairs with it.

priest's house, living room, jazzy carpet

I have a large sitting room, a huge room. I very rarely use it. I have furniture in it that I cherish because I bought it myself about 30 years ago.  

I often ask the girls in the office  “There is a sitting room that’s just going to waste. What should I do?”. Immediately they say: “change the carpet, throw out the furniture…that’s awful, get rid of that.”

Look at the size of this room. You see the carpet is very dominating. How can I fix this room – apart from ripping up the carpet and throwing out the settee – which is part of me?

That’s a broken old chair. That doesn’t matter. That’s a desk that’s never used. The chairs are comfortable. They may be old fashioned – that’s ok. If people don’t like them that’s their problem. I wouldn’t worry about it.  If the room was more comfortable I would be happy enough. I wouldn’t be afraid  to spend more money buying new stuff.

priest's house, big room with heavy furniture

If you are sitting on that chair you want to look at the TV. So you can’t look out at the view. I think in this room you have the option to look at the TV or look out the window. You can’t do both.

You could put a billiard table in this room it’s so big.. I’d say the carpet is very expensive, it’s probably Axminster or something like that. It probably cost a lot of money.  To me it’s purely utilitarian carpet.

My attitude is for somebody to come in and rip that carpet up that would have cost a lot of money to put down, and throw it in a skip and put down clickety clack floors .. it’s a waste that I don’t need.

stained glass panels, door, living room

toy tank, fireplace, picture and doorway

I like military things and tanks you see… and a priest that I’m friendly he bought it and said  that’s your style of leadership. “Let’s go!”.

mahogany furniture, table, crystal, formal room, parochial house

This is the waiting room/ dining room. …

That stuff there matches what I have in the other room….. The Rossmore furniture…. I liked it when I was a student and couldn’t afford anything else. I like it and it stayed with me. That’s the crystal  – mostly given to me as presents.

parish office, desks, priest,

This was originally my office. . … The 2 girls (staff) were in a pokey room so I put them in here. This is a grand room with a lovely view. I’m not in the office much.

If anyone comes to the door with a baptism certificate to be signed. They would sit here. It’s a waiting room.  I would bring anyone up to the front room.

I was 21 years a priest before I was a Parish Priest.

I was 14 years teaching and then  I worked in O – and then  after that I went to B –  did a Masters, and I was a Religious Inspector in Schools and then I was sent to a parish that was a  big challenge. I was 14 years there.  …. I lived in a little council house. Again, it was adequate .. West Belfast ..The parish bought 10 acres of ground and on that ground they built – or I built – a school and a church. But I lived in a council house same as anybody else. A semi-detached council house. 

I was happy enough. It was all I needed. Because it’s not a family home, no kids. ..

I’m here 5 or 6 years now.  It used to be ..maybe 8-14 years you could be in one place. Not now – because of the lack of priests.

I have a priest in the parish newly ordained and he will be with me 5 years this year. He was nearly certain he would have been moved last year but it didn’t happen.  But I’m pretty certain he will go this year.

visitors room, priest's house, bedroom

This is the visitors’ room….. Another room down here. … I don’t decorate the beds. That’s the housekeeper’s  idea.

Sometimes there would be visiting priests would come, maybe missionary priests to give a talk. They would stay here. There are 2 rooms for them. But visitors who come from America wouldn’t stay in a priest’s house, they’d stay in a normal family home.

I have a girl comes in 3 times a week does a bit of cleaning  – and does it very well.

priest, doorway, parochial house

My place in Donegal is a lovely place. 2 hours and 20 minutes away but it is away…  As a priest very important to get out and away doing something different.

At the weekend I just chill out. Sunday afternoon to Monday night. I put on the most unmentionable rags, corduroy trousers and an oul’ sweater  tramp about the garden. I have a boat there and I’m tootling with the engine.

It’s just a good escape. …so far away.

Nuala Rooney

I am designer, educator and researcher developing creative and holistic human-centred insights within the social/spatial sphere.

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  1. Very interesting. I like the intimate story telling style.

  2. Thankyou for your comment – very much appreciated.

  3. Margaret (aka Patsy)

    Love the site .

    1. Patsy, Thankyou so much. Very glad you like it.

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