The death took place on 26 August 2020 of Right Reverend Monsignor Leonard O’Brien, PE.

Monsignor O’Brien died peacefully at Marymount University Hospice, Cork, where he had been in care for a number of weeks.

Monsignor Leonard 1 DSC_0146
The late Right Reverend Monsignor Leonard O’Brien, PE.

Leonard O’Brien was born at Curragh, Skibbereen, in March 1938. He attended primary school at the Boys’ School at Market Street and received his secondary education at St Fachtna’s De La Salle, Skibbereen.

Leonard studied for the priesthood at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, where he was ordained Sub Deacon on 15 June 1962. He was raised to the priesthood by Most Rev. Dr Lucey, Bishop of Cork and Ross, at Our Lady Crowned Church, Mayfield, Cork, on 8 June 1963.

Following his ordination, Fr Leonard served for one year on temporary mission in the diocese of Savannah, Georgia. He later served for eight years on the South American mission in Peru.

DSC_0146 New Altar
On Saturday 21 May 2005 the new altar was re-dedicated and the redeveloped sanctuary area was blessed following extensive renovations and modifications at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Skibbereen. Monsignor Leonard O’Brien delivered a beautiful homily that evening in which he included a history of the building. Pictured on the altar for the concelebrated Mass were, from left, Rev. Fr Martin O’Driscoll, Rev. Fr Cristoir McDonald, Very Rev. Monsignor Leonard O’Brien, Most Rev. Dr John Buckley, Bishop of Cork and Ross, Very Rev. Fr Jim O’Donovan, and Rev. Fr Kevin O’Regan.

As a priest for the diocese of Cork and Ross, Fr Leonard served as curate in Carrigfada and Clogagh, as chaplain in Clonakilty and Blackrock. He served as Administrator of the Cathedral Parish and as parish priest in Ballincollig, before being appointed parish priest of Clonakilty in June 2003 where he served until his retirement in 2012. Fr Leonard was appointed Vicar General of the Diocese and Papal Prelate with title of Monsignor on the 5 September 2003.

Monsignor O’Brien was a man of exceptional intellect, with a cultured and accomplished mind. In 2009 he wrote a history of the thirty-nine years of the Cork and Ross mission to South America. Children of the Sun: The Cork Mission to South America was published by Veritas. It is a beautiful account of the mission, founded in Cork in the 1960s by Bishop Lucey, and tells the story of the Irish missionaries who dedicated themselves to addressing the needs of the indigenous people in parts of Peru, the Andes, and later Ecuador.

Len O'Brien 2 August 23 2002
Pictured at the launch of And Time Stood Still Vol 1, published by St Fachtna’s De La Salle PPU, on 23 August 2002, were Monsignor Leonard O’Brien, Bernie Daly, cathaoirleach of Skibbereen Town Council, and Liam O’Regan, editor, Southern Star.

Monsignor O’Brien always kept close contacts with his family and many friends in Skibbereen and he was particularly interested in the welfare of his alma mater, St Fachtna’s De La Salle. In 2005 he served as President of St Fachtna’s De La Salle Past Pupils’ Union.

Monsignor O’Brien is survived by his sister Anna (O’Donovan) and brother Gerald, both of Skibbereen, and nieces and nephews Margaret, Michael, Josephine, Brian, Romie and Claire.

Skibbereen & District Historical Society would like to offer its sincerest sympathy to founder member and Society President, Mr. Gerald O’Brien, on the death of his brother, Right Reverend Monsignor Leonard O’Brien, PE.

PPU 2005 DSC_8929
In 2005 Monsignor Leonard O’Brien served as President of the St Fachtna’s De La Salle, Skibbereen, Past Pupils’ Union. At the annual School Awards Night in April that year, Monsignor O’Brien presented Anthony Davis and Niall Cahalane with ‘Distinguished Past Pupils’ awards.
Monsignor Leonard O’Brien, PE